Burgeoning of new communities
5737-5743 (1977-1983): Burgeoning New Communities 
On the 22 of Shvat 5737, February 10th, 1977, Katif became a civilian community called Netzer Hazani, named after the late Minister of Welfare, Michael Hazani, who was given the title of ‘father of religious communities’ and one of the enthusiastic supporters of Jewish presence in the region.  It was the first civilian village in the Gaza region.  Prime Minister Rabin, in his address at the ceremony, said “This is a great day for the country and for our new communities. It is a day that symbolizes our hold in a region, which since The Six Day War, has become an inseparable part of the country and its security."  After the ceremony, Rabin affixed the first mezuzah to the doorpost of one of the houses, together with the son of the late minister Hazani.
From its inception, Netzer Hazani characterized the ethnic mosaic of the country and the rural development movement actually found this hard to fathom,.  They were familiar with agricultural villages structured according to ethnic division:  a Moroccan cooperative farm, an Iraqi cooperative, or one with Curdish members.  Suddenly, they had a small group of pioneers, who originated from four corners of the country.  One from urban Israel, another from the USA, one from Eilat, one from New Zealand and three or more from France. It was a very interesting melting pot, which succeeded thanks to their common goal.
Only a few of them came from a farming background, which was quite often the cause of many problems.
The landscape was both exciting and boring: sand dunes as far as the eye could see and 11 dunam of greenhouses and an additional 5 dunam of avocado and mango groves.
In the early days there were no telephones in the houses and the only communication with the outside world was done via a “Motorola” radio contact through the Azata Regional Council.  There was no health clinic and people travelled to Khan Yunis to be examined or to Gaza – to the military doctor, of course – or the Azata Regional Council.  All the messages from the clinics, including, of course, the results of pregnancy tests, were received via the Motorola in the village.  One can guess how difficult it was to keep personal information a secret when someone’s “positive” pregnancy test result and name were broadcast on all the communication systems of the villages from the first month.
The next communal farming village was Ganei Tal – a workers’ village belonging to Hapoel Hamizrachi, which was founded in the summer of 1977 with a core of farmers numbering 10 families, who started out at Kfar Darom.  In the summer of 1978, 17 additional families joined the founding core on their way to the Moshav Katif.  On August  8th 1979, they moved into their permanent home.  The founders were veterans of the IDF, Nahal and the Hesder Yeshivas that combine military service with Torah studies.  Most of them farmed.
In 1978, the Katif cooperative settlers struck roots along with the initial Ganei Tal group.  Both groups lived together in the cooperative for one whole year.  The group disbanded and most of its members dispersed among the settlements in the Gush.  On the 15th of Av 5745, (1985), the "Shalhevet" group inhabited Katif, comprised of 10 families and a few singles, in order to resettle it as a cooperative community.  In 1992, the Katif cooperative opened its gates to community absorption in addition to cooperative absorption.  Socially, the two communities (community and cooperative) lived in a communal society of collaboration and harmony, while engaging in religious and cultural-social activity.  The Moshav Katif consisted of over 60 families, and about 330 people, 220 of them children and youth. 
In 1979, the Hof Gaza Regional Council was established.  For the first time, the Jewish settlement initiative received an independent municipal status.  The council guided the development of the Gush on all levels – habitation, agriculture, tourism, economy and more.
Moshav Gadid struck roots in 1982.  It consisted of over 60 families.  Gadid was an agricultural community, and unlike other farming communities in the Katif region, built its greenhouses near the settlers' homes rather than outside the residential area.  Other greenhouse plots were later established around the settlement due to the increase in greenhouse plots per family.  A "Medicinal Herb Extract Factory" owned by the Barbi family also operated on the premises.  
After the uprooting of the Yamit region, construction went into full swing in the Gaza region, as if to make up for the disengagement from Yamit.  In January 1983, 21 of Tevet 5743, the cornerstone laying ceremony for Neve Dkalim was held, announcing it a formal community, along with the inauguration of the new school.  Neve Dkalim was the largest community in Gush Katif, serving as the civic, municipal and educational center for all the Gush residents.  The community housed all of the main institutions serving the Gush residents – municipal, religious and health offices, yeshivas, ulpana and other educational institutions, a shopping center and an industrial zone. 
In summer of 1981, perhaps to atone for the destruction of Yamit, Gush Katif went into an unusual impetus of construction.  Neve Dkalin began functioning as a regional center; the school's construction commenced, and the leveling of the land gained momentum, in order to build homes on it.  The council began to pressure the institutions to accelerate the construction of the industrial zone.  The construction effort was in fact aided by the disengagement from Sinai; while bulldozers destroyed the Yamit region, many prefab structures, some brand new and unused, were saved, and the Ministry of Housing decided to take advantages of them in the new Gush Katif communities.  They simply took them apart and gathered them in a large mass near Kerem Shalom.  A kind of "graveyard" for old Yamit structures that served as the foundation for erecting the Gush Katif communities.  Thanks to this mass, 153 housing units were built in one fell swoop in Neven Dkalim.  The feeling that "there are ready made homes and there is no problem" fueled the strong desire to use this mass to build new settlements.   This was the first wave.  Later, Gadid and Gan-Or were also built from this mass.  
Years would pass before anyone would do the math and realize that ultimately, it was not such a great bargain; that the cost of renovating the structures, including piping, was not that much cheaper than had they built new structures.  
But those homes enabled the increase in the number of settlers – 250 people within a few months.  23 families registered as candidates for Neve Dkalim; 20 families and a few singles for Atsmona – whose residents decided to remain in Gush Katif – and another 50 or so Hesder students.  When the permanent location for Atzmona, first named Katif Zain, was approved, the placement of the groups in all the Gush communities was completed: Kfar Darom in Gadid, Netzarim in Gan-Or, Morag in Bdolach and Atzmona in Katif Zain.  
The Elei Sinai community was established after the uprooting of Yamit by a group of settlers – some Yamit evacuees and others from different towns across the country – about 15 km south of Ashkelon.  The population consisted of some 85 families; more than 350 residents. Most of the population worked as freelancers.  
Moshav Bnei Atzmon struck roots in the Rafah plain in 1978, as a Zionist response to Camp David Accords, aiming to stop the uprooting in that area.  The community relocated to the Gush Katif dunes following the Yamit disengagement, finding its permanent location after wandering between a few temporary sites.  In its early days, Atzmona was a cooperative community, but a few years ago, it has undergone privatization, according to which all families belong to the communal society and the 30 settlement families belong to the cooperative framework.  These two bodies operated in complete harmony and mutual help.  Over 95 families resided in Atzmona; more than 700 people.    
In 1980, the Netzarim settlement became a civilian community by the Gan-Or group.  In 1983, Netzarim went back to being a settlement, after the group members, who were Hesder and Bnei Akiva graduates, founded Gan-Or – a cooperative community of Hapoel Mizrachi in Gush Katif.  It comprised of over 50 families, most of who made their living from greenhouse farming (vegetables and greens), and a few from different private entrepreneurship and freelance professions.  The group first settled in Netzarim before making its permanent residence in Gush Katif.  
Kfar Yam was established that same year; a small community belonging to the Amana Movement on the shore just west of Neve Dkalim, hence its name. The community was founded by two families on the premises of a deserted holiday resort for Egyptian military officers.  Two more families joined later.  

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