Statue to Gaza community’s evacuation dedicated in Knesset amid controversy


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Knesset dedicated a statue commemorating the Jewish communities evacuated from Gush Katif in Gaza in 2005.

The statue, which is more than a foot high, and Monday evening’s ceremony were protested by Peace Now.

Some 8,000 Israelis were evacuated from 21 settlements in Gush Katif, and from four West Bank settlements under the unilateral disengagement.

“I believe that with all due respect to the pain of the evacuees, placing a permanent memorial to mark one specific political and controversial event (which included no loss of life) is not appropriate, and raises suspicions that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein is treating the legislative house as his own house,” Yariv Oppenheimer, the head of Peace Now, wrote in a letter to the Knesset.

Oppenheimer pointed out that there are no memorials in the same part of the Knesset for the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the Yom Kippur War, the evacuation of Yamit in the Sinai Peninsula or the massacre at Kafr Kassem.

The statue is not permanent and thus does not violate any Knesset rules, the Knesset’s legal adviser, Eyal Yinon, said in response.

Edelstein opted for a small, removable memorial to avoid any installation difficulties.

“I had no political intentions in putting up the piece, and as long as I am Knesset speaker, it will remain here,” Edelstein said.

Edelstein opposed the disengagement and is a resident of the Neve Daniel settlement in the Etzion bloc in the West Bank.

The statue, a model of a sculpture that was located in the Nitzan settlement, features a six-pointed star split open by a palm tree and includes the names of evacuated settlements.

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