A New York politician who recently led an American solidarity mission to Gaza to protest the slated evacuation of Jewish communities from the area has announced a second, larger trip next month during which participants will live with Gaza’s Jewish residents for three days.

“We’re coming back stronger and with more people,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn, told WND. “Israel is making the gravest mistake by giving up Gaza. It is the duty of every American who cares about the Jewish state to do something about this tragic decision.”

Hikind’s first mission to Gaza. Photo: WND

Hikind in March brought 40 Americans to Gaza, where they stayed in the Katif area, the largest Gaza settlement block slated for evacuation this summer under Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal plan. The group ate, slept and worked with Gaza Jews.

Said Hikind: “The last trip was just shocking to everyone who went. To see the beauty of the place, to feel the difficulty and pain of the residents who did nothing wrong and are now forced to just abandon their homes and lives. More Americans need to experience the area, and once they do, they will understand why the withdrawal is disastrous.”

Hikind’s new mission will depart Sunday, June 5, following New York’s annual Israel Day Parade, and will head straight to Gaza upon arrival.

“We’ll once again live for three days with the Jewish people in Gaza, go to their businesses, see the synagogues that Sharon wants to vacate. … This time, we’re planning for hundreds to come. Jews. Christians. All are welcome and urged to participate. Anyone who wants to can be back in America by Thursday.”

Hikind said anti-withdrawal sentiments should permeate American society:

“Anyone who wants us to win the war on terror has to be against this plan. The terrorists are already hailing the withdrawal as a victory and have already announced they will take over the area to continue attacks until all of Israel is destroyed. Terrorists around the world are going to be encouraged that their tactics work since it got Israel to leave Gaza.”

But the lawmaker’s group may encounter tactical problems. Israel has said it will shortly declare Gaza a closed military zone, barring nonresidents from entering the area. The Israeli Defense Forces have several times said they would seal off Gaza, but so far have not followed through.

“It would be nuts for Israel to ban us from coming,” said Hikind. “Their main concern is people will move in for good and hamper their ability to kick out Jews from Gaza. But everyone on my mission will have return tickets. We’re only there for a few days.”

Yesterday, Sharon announced Israel will delay its evacuation of Gaza and parts of the West Bank until Aug. 14. The original start date was July 25.

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