Gush Katif was an area of Jewish towns in the Gaza region for nearly 35 years, from 1970 to 2005. The nearly 9000 residents of its 21 towns were relocated from their homes in August 2005 following a decision made by the Israeli government.
The roots of this area are in 11 towns which were established prior to the founding of the State of Israel, at the close of Yom Kippur on 6 October, 1947. The beginning of the newly founded towns in Gush Katif stemmed from a decision made by the government in 1970 to establish two IDF Nahal (pioneer combat youth) communities — Kfar Darom and Nezarim. Kfar Darom was erected in the central Gaza region, on the site of one of the 11 towns which were abandoned after heavy fighting in the War of Independence in 1948.
The increase in terrorism in the Gaza region in the early 1970's expedited the plans for the area. The thought was to interrupt the Arab continuum by establishing intermittent Israeli towns. The first civilian community, Nezer Hazani, was founded in 1977, followed by Katif and Ganei Tal.
In 1979 the Gaza Coast Regional Council was founded and for the first time the Jewish residents were awarded independent municipal status. The Council led the area in all aspects of its development — residential, agricultural, tourism, economics, etc.
The area flourished in the period from 1976-1987, when the number of civilian communities grew from one single community to fourteen. The area continued to develop and prosper throughout various political and civil changes and upheavals.
Gush Katif excelled at successfully integrating religious scholars and laborers, former residents of metropolitan centers and those who came from outlying development towns, students and farmers, people of varying ethnicities and backgrounds. They all lived side by side, together getting through the difficulties of desert agriculture, terrorism and loss and the eventual process of leaving. All of these elements contributed to creating the unique human fabric that developed in Gush Katif.
The land was kind to its residents, and Gush Katif agriculture bore high quality results, providing 10% of Israel's agricultural produce. 65% of Israel's organic vegetable exports and 90% of its insect free leafy vegetables were grown in Gush Katif.
In its twilight, the area boasted 44 children's daycare centers, 33 pre-schools, 6 religious and secular schools, 3 high schools, 6 yeshivas, 3 advanced Judaic study programs, 4 religious colleges and a military preparatory school.
Mordechai (Mochi) Better
Gush Katif Residents Committee