Five Fingers Plan
Five Fingers of Settlement
On the 11 of Iyar 5728, May 9th 1968, the Deputy Prime Minister, Yigal Alon presented his proposal to the government to establish two agricultural communities “whether in the pattern of Nahal settlements or that of civilian communities, between Rafah and Gaza City”. In explaining the rural village proposal, it stated that: “There are sections of land, which can be relatively cheaply developed for settlement.  Such communities are crucial to the political future of the Gaza Strip because they separate the strip south of Gaza City.  Moreover, it is very important for security purposes to have a Jewish presence in the heart of Gaza”.  (The full details appear in a book by Yechiel Admony, the then Director of the Community Development Department at the Zionist Federation, titled ‘A Decade of Consideration’, p.64.) 
On the 12 of Elul 5729, September 13th 1970, Golda Meir’s government decided to establish two Nahal settlements in the Gaza Strip:  the first at Abu Median, to be named Netzarim and the second, a revival of Kfar-Darom.
On the 11 of Tishrei 5731, October 11th 1970, the Kfar Drom Nahal settlement was founded. It was the first one to be founded after Gaza was released in the Six Day War, marking the beginning of Jewish rural community development in the Gaza Strip.  Kfar Darom’s revival was considered to be a sincere and proper act of historical justice.
Mounting terror in the early seventies increased the proposals to speed up rural community development as a Zionistic response to terror.  The principle was to interrupt the territorial continuity of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs with Jewish communities. This trend was likened to inserting Jewish “fingers” from Israel into the Strip and connecting them to the continuum of Israel’s territorial sovereignty.
The First Finger – this block of rural villages in the Northern Gaza Strip (in time, the Eli-Sinai and Nisanit villages), was intended to extend Jewish community development from the South of Ashkelon to the suburbs of Beit Hanoun and to Gaza. 
The Second Finger – was the Abu-Median (Netzarim) region.  Three villages were originally planned in this body of community development, with the intention of interrupting the continuous range of Arab villages between Gaza and Dir-al-Balach.
The Fourth Finger – was the block of rural villages intended to separate Khan Yunis from Rafah.  (In time, the cooperatives of Gan-Or, Gadid, Badolah, Bnei Atzmon, Morag, Pe’at-Sadeh and Rafah Yam were built here). 
In the middle of the road between these two agricultural communities, a large regional center, Neve Dkalim, was built after the withdrawal from Sinai, to unite the two blocks of rural villages into one large block called Gush Katif.
The Fifth Finger – was Pithat Rafah (Yamit Region), which was intended to form a partition of rural villages between the Gaza Strip and North Sinai.  This preceded community development within the Gaza Strip.
On Purim, the 14 of Adar 5732, February 29th 1972 – Netzarim, the second Nahal settlement in the Gaza Strip, was founded.  On the 15 of Sivan 5732, May 30th 1972 – the third Nahal settlement of Morag was founded.  On the 27 of Iyar 5733, May 29th 1973 – the fourth Nahal settlement of Katif was founded. (Its name changed to Netzer Hazani when it became a civilian community.)
On the 12 of Tevet 5736, December 16th 1975, Kfar Drom became a civilian community and a transit base for Gush Katif villagers.
When the government decided on settling the Gaza region, all the agricultural development movements competed for the right to develop this region.  Hashomer Hatzair insisted on acquiring Netzarim. The Religious Kibbutz Movement asked to develop Kfar Drom.  Hanoar Haleumi Movement wanted to move to Morag and in time, Elei-Sinai was received by the Amana Movement representing Sinai expellees. 
The struggle between the United Kibbutz and National Kibbutz movements is especially interesting.  Both clearly leftist movements competed for the right to establish Netzarim. In Sivan 5735, when Netzarim was held by the United Kibbutz Movement after receiving it from the Religious Kibbutz Movement, the Nahal Youth section of the United Kibbutz movement insisted on transferring Netzarim to the National Kibbutz Movement.  The Secretariat of the United Kibbutz Movement informed the Nahal Youth section of their refusal to exchange Netzarim with the Katif agricultural village (now Netzer Hazani) in the south of the Strip.  Nothing helped; The Youth and Nahal section determined that Netzarim should belong to the National Kibbutz Movement – and so it did.
Few believed in the success of community development in the region.  The late Arieh Yudenfreund from Sadeh Ya’acov, who was considered an unimpeachable source with regard to determining areas for agricultural development, claimed, after visiting the sands of Khan Yunis:  “Hairs will grow on the palm of my hand if anything can be grown on this land. It is shifting soil.  It is sand.  Nothing can be cultivated on it.”  Archeological studies of the area showed that there are no signs of agriculture or habitation on those dunes.  No mortal has ever succeeded in cultivating these dunes and archeological findings prove that no permanent structures were ever erected there.  At most, the area served wandering tribes with tents. 
Experts claimed that vegetables could be cultivated in the sand but, if they wanted to grow tomatoes, for example, they would have to bring peat from the Hula region of the Galilee for, without it, there was no chance of seeing even a tomato tendril growing there.  The farmers began digging trenches in the sand and filling them with peat so the plants would first be acclimatized in the peat and then continue growing.  Two or three years later, they discovered that the tomatoes actually flourished in the sand, even without the peat. The whole effort had been completely superfluous. At the same time, farmers in the Hula Valley were becoming disillusioned with farming in peat when it became clear that it was actually inferior soil.
Ironically, many years later, they began transferring sand from Gush Katif to the north, in order to grow high-quality tomatoes.
Arieh Yudenfreund did not forget his “prophecy” that hair would grow on the palm of his hand before anything would grow in the sand.  “My sons have defeated me” he would often say, as he glanced lovingly at the residents and their produce.
The security situation was also excellent.  In the early years of the Gush Katif rural villages, relations between the villagers and their Arab neighbors were marked by warmth and friendliness.  Especially close relations developed between the Hof Gaza Regional Council and all the neighboring regional councils:  Dir-al-Balach, Khan Yunis, Rafah and the Gerar Regional Council.  The head of the Council, Reuben Rosenblatt, formed close personal relationships with the heads of the Arab councils.  It was a common sight to see them visiting each other in Gush Katif and in the Arab villages, not only in their offices but at their private homes, receiving one another warmly.
Another common sight was the very prominent attendance of Arab Sheiks at the agricultural village inaugurations.  At the same time as they sat in the audience at the corner-stone laying ceremonies, people from the left and “Peace Now” demonstrated outside the fence against the “injustice to the Arabs” due to the establishment of the vilage.  This absurdity accompanied the cultivating enterprise in Gush Katif for many years.  The villagers would shop in Khan-Yunis, leaving their larger purchases for Gaza.  They got their dental care and driving lessons in the Arab cities of the Strip – Gaza, Khan-Yunis or Rafah.

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