At Jerusalem conference, settler activists call for return to Jewish settlements in Gaza

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Miriam Sofer at the Settlements Bring Security conference for building Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, January 28, 2024 (Jeremy Sharon/The Times of Israel)
Miriam Sofer at the Settlements Bring Security conference for building Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, January 28, 2024 (Jeremy Sharon/The Times of Israel)

Thousands of settler activists gather in Jerusalem for a conference on building settlements in the Gaza Strip once again, organized by the Nachala settlement organization, together with the Samaria Regional Council in the West Bank, and other groups.

The conference in Jerusalem is entitled “Settlements Bring Security” and the International Convention Center where it is being held is replete with banners and posters advocating for reconstructing the settlements.

A central display exhibits a map of the Gaza Strip showing where the former Israeli settlements were located and where the conference organizers wish to establish six new settlements in the Palestinian enclave, including in urban areas of the southern city of Khan Younis and in the heart of Gaza City.

Miriam Sofer from the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel who is staffing a concession stand selling T-shirts promoting settlement construction in Gaza explains that the location of the planned settlements for Gaza has been strategically chosen to allow greater military control of the territory.

Formerly a resident of the Katif settlement in Gaza, she rejects the notion that it would be impossible for Israelis to return to live safely in Gaza.

“We used to go and buy shoes and clothes in Khan Younis, we used to get our car fixed there,” she says when asked if the lives of Israelis would not be severely endangered by living in Palestinian population centers.

“If we live there, they’ll live according to our rules. Even today when I leave the house I’m afraid of terror attacks. But if you don’t live somewhere in the Land of Israel because you’re afraid, you’ll end up living in the sea.”

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