Resettlement of Refugees in Gaza Sparks Protest by Jewish Settlers

A serious confrontation is shaping up between the government and Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip trying to block implementation of a provision of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

It calls for the repatriation of some 6,000 Palestinian refugees from Sinai to the Gaza Strip, where they had lived before Israel conquered the territory in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The refugees have been living in Canada Camp, on the Sinai side of the divided town of Rafah.

On Wednesday, the first five Arab family heads crossed into the Israeli-controlled part of town to examine land set aside for them to build homes.

Hundreds of Jewish settlers protested angrily from a hill overlooking the site of the planned Palestinian settlement. Before leaving for the day, they set up tents from which they plan to stage a permanent sit-down strike on the Arab land, to prevent its occupation by the Palestinian families.

Zvi Hendel, head of the Gaza Shore Regional Council, accused the government of allowing more terrorists into the Gaza Strip. He claimed that five heavily armed Arab infiltrators gunned down Tuesday by Israeli troops in the western Negev came from Canada Camp.

Miri Megiddish, a mother of six from Netzer Hazani settlement, insisted on segregation. The Arabs should live “there and we must live here,” she said.

The settlers see the issue as a test case with implications for the entire Palestinian refugee problem.

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