NATIV HA’ASARA, Israel – In what expelled Jewish residents of the area are calling the “ultimate insult,” Hamas has turned the former Jewish capital of the Gaza Strip into a terror training camp and has used the territory to launch rockets into Israel, WND has learned.
Picturesque Neve Dekalim while under Jewish control
Before Israel’s Gaza withdrawal in August, Neve Dekalim was the largest town in Gaza’s Gush Katif slate of Jewish communities. The neighborhood was usually bustling with residents dining, shopping and going to work. It contained Katif’s industrial zone, government buildings, and some of the largest synagogues and stores in the area. Housing was tight, with a total of 467 units in the neighborhood filled by Jewish families who moved in from throughout Israel and across the world.
Israel bulldozed Dekalim and the rest of Gush Katif after its withdrawal Aug. 14, leaving only the area’s Jewish greenhouses intact after they were purchased for the Palestinians in a deal brokered by private American citizens.
Now, Palestinians in Gaza say barbed wire has been placed around Neve Dekalim, and signs posted in Arabic call the neighborhood a “closed military zone.”
Senior Hamas sources told WND yesterday the group has made Dekalim into a “military training camp for martyrs,” and they boast several Qassam rockets have been fired from the former Jewish capital into nearby Israeli Negev towns.
Hamas has taken credit for Israel’s Gaza withdrawal, and has over the past few months become a formidable force in the area. It swept local municipal elections, and analysts expect the terror group to do well in upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections.
Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas chief in Gaza, told WND in an exclusive interview last month “that our martyr operations caused Israel to withdraw from Gaza is the truth and the reality. … [Martyr operations] are the option that the great majority of our people, except a minority of opportunistic people, is deeply convinced is the best choice because any negotiation with the occupiers will be helpless and will not bring back to the Palestinians any of their rights and it will not free their lands.”
Al-Zahar warned Hamas would launch terror attacks to drive Israel from the West Bank, and ultimately from the entire Jewish state.
That Hamas is in control on the ground in Neve Dekalim shows the Palestinian Authority is too weak or unwilling to fight the terror group, a spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry told WND.
The news of a Hamas terror camp in their former city saddened expelled Jewish residents of Neve Dekalim.
Dror Venunu, former director of the Gush Katif Development Fund and a Dekalim resident, told WND, “This is the ultimate insult. I didn’t have one illusion the Palestinians would use our town to build something good. We warned about this to the Israeli population, that giving Gush Katif will reward all the terror organizations. Still, to hear where my home once stood is now a Hamas terror camp is very difficult and sickening. This is like making a holy place into total filth.”
Rachel Sapperstein, a former Dekalim community leader, told WND, “I had not expected anything less from the Palestinians. I would have assumed they would take our beautiful homes, synagogues, and schools and turn them into centers for terror.”
Sapperstein said prior to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza she was in the planning stages for a new girls’ dormitory to be constructed in Neve Dekalim in the memory of the first Gush Katif resident killed in a terror attack.
“I thank God I didn’t built that dormitory,” Sapperstein said, “because my heart would shatter if I knew that from it would come a Hamas training camp.”