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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Settler diary 5: Pesach Aceman
Pesach Aceman, a 63-year-old former Jewish settler at Ganei Tal in Gaza, continues his diary for the BBC News website. In this instalment, Mr Aceman looks back at the moment of eviction and some of the practical difficulties of resettlement in Israel.

It seems like an age since I last sat down to write anything. Since that time about five or six days ago, we have been evicted from our homes in Ganei Tal.

Pesach Aceman
63-year-old widower, doctor and father of a teenage daughter
Former resident of Ganei Tal, Gush Katif
Emigrated to Israel from Canada in 1973

We left peacefully. The afternoon prayer service just prior to our leaving was one of the most moving I have ever experienced.

I want to make this point very clearly. Most of the violence seen on TV in relation to Gush Katif settlements was caused by supporters who are not fulltime residents. The residents, for the most part, departed in pain but peacefully.

In fact there was such a display of pain and love between those evicted and those who did the evicting. This became a truly remarkable part of the whole mess.

I know our Palestinian neighbours will be rejoicing as though the terror of the militants was the key factor, but little do they know that because of their hate, we will be back.

Almost all of those in the synagogue were in tears, particularly the younger people. At the end of the service, many approached the Holy Ark, which houses the Torah scrolls, and wept openly and for a long time.

My daughter was among them and I stood with her and we wept together. After such trauma and such a moving service, there was no room for violence. One was in too much pain and feeling too much love for the land.

I could fill pages with what has happened to our community and me personally. Seeing the sad faces of the young people. Knowing others will get busy to avoid the pain.

Chasing down what happened to my unpacked things that I never returned to fully pack up as I could not get a permit to re-enter to complete the supervision of the packing of the container. I was assured that the possessions I left behind would be packed and sent to me, but some friends had already had a container stolen.

Many who did not previously negotiate with the government over resettlement are literally homeless. Others have been booted out of hotel rooms to make room for the booked quests.

This uncaring attitude is not right for those in pain already! Ganei Tal residents have mostly gone to a kibbutz guest-house until new, temporary housing is available.

Today is the first time I have been able to listen to or watch the news since we left. It is very painful to watch, just as it was when it was happening to us.

It's a month since a couple, Dov and Rachel Cole, from Jerusalem, were killed by terrorists as they drove home from Ganei Tal. It is hard to believe that so much has transpired since their joyous family visit and its horrendous ending.

But the spirit of this couple along with the spirit of those evicted will survive and inspire a nation. This has been a recurring theme in Jewish history and we draw inspiration from our painful moments as a nation. I only hope that we will learn from this.

Already US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is calling for further steps to be taken by us. You would not want to publish my views on this.

Your comments:

Shalom Pesach, as I look at your picture, I see myself as I am about the same age. I lived in Israel for 12 years and served in the IAF. My generation had a vision, a goal, and a leader that helped in realising our ideals. I am a Zionist who believes Ben Gurion"s vision of a greater Israel. Having said this, I also realise that the world as a whole has and is changing. Idealism we once knew has given way to the me generation. Not many people like yourself Pesach are/were willing to settle the outposts for love of country, our religion, our respect for life, as well as indirectly making our country a safer place to live. Now, 38 years later, we once again will make sacrifices for at the best what is a promise for peace. Unfortunately people like yourself have to reconsider, and think of what next. So Pesach, from the diaspora until we meet again and we shall. I sent my love and prayers to all the settlers.
Dov Ben Essine, Thousand Oaks, California

I think that the settlers moving out is a sacrifice that will pay dividends in the end. As Gandhi has taught us all, the first step forward is a sacrifice but in the end will result in the well being of both parties concerned in this dispute. I pray that all the flashpoints have a peaceful end.
Girish Ramesh, San Jose, CA, USA

The ideal thing would be if both peoples could live side by side in peace. They both love the same land dearly, and that is why they should work together to share it in harmony. I do hope that if M. Aceman ever comes back, it will be to share that land, not to evict others again. I also hope that the Palestinian Authority recognizes the greatness of this act, and truly stops terrorism.
Andrea Jimenez, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

How many Palestinian homes have been demolished with little warning and no compensation in the last few years? It is sad when anyone is forced from their home, but this insistence by Israeli citizens to de-humanize their Palestinian neighbours is the one thing standing in the way of peace. Could those of both nations please start looking at what they have in common rather than at what makes them different?
Emma, UK

As much as I sympathise with individuals having to move out of their homes, they should not have lived there in the first place. Under the UN-sanctioned formation of Israel after WWII, Gaza was supposed to be for Palestinians. As for those who moved across the world to become settlers in this contested area: it seems Judaism too is subject to misinterpretation by the overzealous.
Laura, New York, USA

Lessons learned? Somehow I doubt it. To me "Little do they know that because of their hate, we will be back" is just another threat. The lesson is respect for the law. God was/ is not an real estate broker. Nor may one steal, and that includes occupation of foreign land.
Anonymous, Kyoto, Japan

I can feel Dr Aceman's anguish and pain, but yet I believe he realizes that Sharon was right - the demographics left no other choice. As Ben Gurion intimated in 1948, to have a Jewish state is more important than to have the biblical land of Israel.
Alfred Fiks, Escazu, Costa Rica

It is heartbreaking that Aceman and his neighbours should have to leave their homes and it is heartbreaking that the Palestinians should have to leave theirs. Often, they have had to leave under much worse conditions. It seems to me that all this heartbreak is useless. Palestinians and Jews could have lived side by side if Israel had been a secular state and if the cycle of hate and counter-hate hadn't started and if people could stop it once it has.
Mia, Los Angeles, USA

It is indeed sad to be forced out of your home. The settlers had it easy, being more or less gently removed. Palestinians since 1948 weren't so lucky. I hear settlers talk about how much Palestinians are filled with hate, yet they only refer to Palestinians as terrorists. Who's filled with hate, again?
Sherif Sadek, New York, New York

All my sympathy to the settler who have to leave their home. It wouldn't be easy on anyone to be taken out of your own home by force. I believe the plan of Sharon is much more cunning than that. His plan is not a mid-term plan to give back land which was not Israel's but more to isolate the Palestinians and bring them down by locking them in a natural enclosure, a complete embargo. he Palestinians may be celebrating now, but I fear they will be far worse off in a few months.
R.D, Brussels, Belgium

My sympathies to the settlers that have been forced out the place they called home. Now, the Palestinians who have also called it home for 2000 years but were illegally forced out in 1967 will have access to it once more. Sharon is righting one of the many wrongs committed by Israel against the Palestinians. The momentum must not be lost and the rest of the wrongs must be reversed in order for us to have peace in Palestine, and reduce the anger which causes terrorism worldwide. Condoleezza is right in this case, it is not in US interests to be seen supporting a state which violates international law, while at the same time attacking another. Have patience Mr Aceman, and be proud that you are part of this important first step.
Ibrahim, London, England, UK

It is a traumatic experience, make no mistake about it, to be evicted from the home one has lived in for years and I do sympathise with the Israeli youngsters who were born and raised on the Gaza Strip. However, their parents were aware that they had settling there illegally and should have prepared themselves mentally for the day when they would be forced to leave. And what about the Palestinians who were driven out from the land they had occupied for centuries simply because they lost a war?
Debraj, London, UK

My heart goes out to Pesach and all the Jewish settlers in Gaza and West Bank. Together with so many Jews, I am and my prayers are with you. By leaving Gaza we give the message to Arab terrorists that terrorism works to achieve one's goals. Palestinians have not proved to anyone that they want peace and this is evident from the fact that Hamas just keeps on getting stronger each day. Abbas has not demonstrated that he is not our partner in peace either.
Lev, New York, USA

First, I would like to say, I am neither a Jew, nor an Arab, but am an American. I have read several of the stories from the internet on the peoples being moved from the Gaza Strip. I have more freedom than peoples from other countries, but I feel I must agree with Pesach Aceman's feelings on what is going on there. I feel sorry for all the hardships the Israeli people have faced in that region, and feel that their government is letting the people down. Then again, I know that the government is trying to show good faith in steps to further peace in the region. Both parties have good reasons behind their actions, but the decision is a hard one that will surely leave scars.
Ermon Harper III, Pineville, Missouri, US

Mr Aceman might be surprised to learn, as I frankly was, that many Palestinians express empathy for the settlers being evicted from their homes. Personally, as a visitor here, I have found it difficult to feel terribly sorry for those who chose to build their homes and lives on land that belongs to someone else. While the world watched live coverage of the settlers being gently and carefully removed from their homes, 10 Palestinian families were being evicted from their houses by the Israeli army. Those houses are built on Palestinian land, but they have been taken over by the army as military outposts. No outcry, no media coverage, no sympathy and tears for these families.
Sara Hussein, Gaza City, Gaza

It's sad to see that Pesach Aceman is unable to seize this opportunity for a fresh start, not only for himself and fellow settlers but also for the Palestinians and the state of Israel. Language like "we will be back" does not help and furthers an attitude of vengeance and revenge. Mr Aceman mentions the regretful death of an Israeli couple (an opinion I share) but does not mention the settlers who recently shot several Palestinians. We all recognise this is an extremely trying time for all involved. If only both sides could "turn the other cheek".
James Purves, London

Very gentle and moving description by Dr Aceman of his family's experience during the process of their eviction from the Ganei Tal settlement in Gaza. I was particularly struck by his prediction of how hate has corrupted the Palestinians and what the likely outcome will be. The settlers in Gaza always were, among other things, a quasi-military force.

I understand that being forced away from home is a very painful experience. There should be no rejoicing at all that men had to suffer this pain. Nevertheless, I fail to understand how everybody seems to forget how these people settled down in that land. No rhetoric can ever change the fact that settlers were not immigrants, but colonisers occupying a land which has been conquered by force.
Virgilio Pellandini, Bellinzona, Switzerland

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