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IDF Estimates 2-3 Weeks to Expel Gaza's Jewish Residents


Brig. Gen. Guy Tzur, chief of Gaza's Southern Command, explained the timetable for the upcoming disengagement. He predicted the actual expulsion of area residents would be accomplished in two-to-three weeks. Tzur is viewed as the senior disengagement officer, responsible for orchestrating and overseeing the entire operation in Gaza. According to Tzur, by the beginning of October 2005, the operation will have ended in its entirety and IDF forces will be awaiting the government order to leave Gaza. He added that private homes would be destroyed in the operation as will synagogues and ritual baths, but not public buildings or the remaining infrastructure, which will be handed over to the PA. Tzur said that during weeks four and five, the movement of graves would be addressed, stating soldiers would not be ordered to withdraw from the area until all matters have been addressed in an appropriate fashion.

Jailed Teenage Protesters Released Due to Public Outcry


After a surge of pressure from citizens and various organizations outraged at their treatment, three teenage girls, jailed for 40 days for protesting the Disengagement Plan, have been released. "The only thing that made any difference was the public pressure," the father of one of the girls, Moshe Belogorodsky, told Arutz-7.

The girls, Belogorodsky's daughter Chaya, 14, Moriah Goldberg, 13, and Peninah Ashkenazi, 16, were released from prison after agreeing to conditions limiting their movement. "I was contacted by the Young Israel of America, the Rabbinic Council of America, people who are friends with President George W. Bush, a group of Israeli criminologists, who released a statement on the girls' behalf, and several world-renowned psychologists, who submitted letters about the detrimental effects of jailing minors," said Belogorodsky.

"And that's not all. Somebody made an inquiry to the Canadian Agency for Children's Rights, who said that in no democratic country in the world were minors being arrested for political protest. The good-hearted people who did all these things sent each letter and document to Israel's president and the Israeli Supreme Court as well. Many people took the initiative and wrote to the Israeli embassy in America as well." Belogorodsky said that all the protests forced the courts to reconsider their position. "They decided to try to make a deal," he said.

The agreement that was reached allowed the girls to go together to one of their grandparent's homes for one week, after which they are to be placed under house arrest in their homes for 10 days (the beginning of the implementation of the Disengagement Plan). After that, they will appear in court, and they are to then be free to go wherever they please.

President Moshe Katsav joined an initiative put forward by MK (Yahad-Meretz) Ran Cohen, who heads the Knesset Committee for Children's Rights, calling to protect children's "body and soul" during the disengagement. The president and Knesset committee are calling on police, soldiers and all agencies involved in the implementation of the expulsion to act accordingly towards children - instructing them to treat them as their own children. They also made an appeal to rabbis and Yesha leaders not to put children in the frontline and not to place them at risk.

Mass Prayer Against Expulsion at Foot of Holy Temple Mount


Jews across Israel are taking part in a mass prayer at Jerusalem's Western Wall, just below the Temple Mount, Wednesday to call on God to stop the expulsion of Jews from their homes in Gush Katif.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Haredi and National Religious rabbis are calling upon all Jews to take part in a mass prayer at the Western Wall Wednesday for the "nullification of the uprooting decree." Former Ashkenazi and Sephardi Chief Rabbis Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu, who have long led protests against the Gaza expulsion plan, will lead rabbis in a united call directed to the Heavens, rather than toward Israel's Knesset. Shapira and Eliyahu will be joined by Shas Party Leader and former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, members of the Haredi-religious Council of Torah Sages, former MK Rabbi Menachem Porush and other prominent Hassidic rabbis.

The event has special significance in that it marks a rare uniting of leading, influential Rabbis from the Hareidi, Sephardic, and National Religious sectors together in one event. At an emergency meeting that took place last week at his home, Rabbi Menachem Porush, a well-known Hareidi-religious leader and former member of Knesset, burst out in tears. The rabbi told those present that over the past 80 years of his life, he cannot remember a time where thousands of Jewish families were being expelled from their homes in such a manner, when 25 Jewish towns were set to be utterly destroyed, when the destruction of dozens of synagogues and houses of Torah study was to take place, as well as the desecration of Jewish graves. "Even in Russia it was not like this," he said.

"Our forefather Abraham asked for mercy on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were evil - appealing to God that there must be 50...20..even 10 righteous people living there," said Porush. "How much more so, when we have towns filled with Torah and yeshivas, with righteous Jews who fear Heaven, are we obligated to pray for them and for the nullification of the decree."

Palestinian Leader Calls for Peaceful Israeli Pullout from Gaza

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Israel should be allowed to leave Gaza in a peaceful and civilized manner to show the world that the Palestinian people deserve independence and freedom. In a speech to the Palestinian parliament, Abbas said the Gaza pullout was the beginning of the fulfillment of a dream that would lead to Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Abbas spoke hours after Jewish settlers in Gaza received their first evacuation orders. The army distributed letters warning the settlers that they have a little more than a week to evacuate their homes. Those residents who have not moved out by Aug. 17 would be removed by force.

Many settlers reacted with defiance.Na'ama Dorbeev, the secretary of the Gaza settlement of Katif said "It's a further attempt by the government to humiliate us, scare us and trample on our rights." She told Israeli television, "We will remain here forever".

But others settlers are not as optimistic. Nearly 60 percent of the more than 9.000 settlers slated for evacuation from Gaza and part of the West Bank have applied for government compensation. That is a rise from 44 percent two weeks ago. It is a sign that settler resistance is waning and they are coming to terms with the idea that the pullout is inevitable. A new poll shows that 55 percent of Israelis support the Gaza withdrawal, while 39 percent are opposed. That is an indication that Israel is a bitterly divided nation.

After 41 Years, Pullout Reunites Gaza Fisherman and His Mother

By Ha'aretz

Socrates Shushan left his mother 41 years ago. Now he is also leaving Rafah Yam, and there is a tremendous upheaval in the family. Almost everything has already been pushed into boxes, the closets have been emptied and the refrigerator is bare. All one sees on the faces of Socrates and his wife, Brigitte, is the desire to get the whole thing over with. And in the middle of all this, the telephone rang Monday. "Hello, Socrates, this is your sister Carole. Do you remember me? Mother is looking for you."

Socrates had no idea that his 79-year-old mother was still alive. In the past 41 years, there were no ties between them. But in the past few months, as disengagement approached, Socrates the fisherman gave some interviews to media from his country of birth, France, as well as to this column. Last week, a family friend was watching France-1 when the fisherman with the unusual name was interviewed. She remembered the name, contacted the family - and Socrates reengaged with his mother after 41 years. "I don't believe it. It's hard to digest. Because of disengagement I have again found contact with my mother. I'm leaving Gush Katif, my life is changing, and then suddenly I find my mother. It's unbelievable. I told my children they have a grandmother," he said.

From a small village near Toulouse, his sobbing mother, Giselle, told Ha'aretz: "Can you imagine what it is at my age to find my son again? I am an old and sick woman, and now I have this great joy."

Socrates was three when his parents divorced, and his father left with four of the children, leaving Socrates and a sister with the mother. The father moved to another town, and Socrates grew up without seeing him and the other siblings for several years. Meanwhile his mother remarried and had more children (including Carole). Later, when he was eight years old, Socrates went to live with his father on the border between France and Switzerland. "It was so hard to leave my mother," he recalls. "I used to cry every night." Giselle lost all contact with her family 41 years ago. This week she said she would cry every night thinking about them.

In 1984, when he was 28, Socrates decided to come to Israel. His girlfriend Brigitte, who had been born to a Jewish family in Tunisia, decided to live in Be'er Sheva and Socrates followed her, and they married. During the week, he worked as a light technician at the local theater and on weekends pursued his hobby of fishing on the wild Mediterranean coast in Gaza. Just when the family was thinking of returning to France because of economic difficulties, they saw an advertisement seeking families to move to Gush Katif. They toured the area and in 1989 moved to Rafah Yam, where their twin sons, now 11, were born, and Socrates pursued his lifelong love of fishing.

"The children often asked me if I had a mother," he says. "I told them I once had, but I didn't know what had happened to her and whether she was still alive."(His father had lived in Jerusalem and died last year.)

Socrates says that when Carole telephoned, he thought it was a journalist, but then he heard her crying. I asked her if she was my sister Carole, and then I immediately asked for mother's number. Mother and I spoke for four hours. We were both so excited, and my voice was trembling while she was crying."

Socrates is now planning a family reunion. They will get together in a few months to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday. "I keep wondering if it is a dream," he says. "Perhaps I'm imagining things because of the tremendous tension - the moving, the farewells with our friends, the fear of how we will manage in our caravan in Nitzan."

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