GUSH KATIF (Heb. גוש קטיף; Katif Bloc), group of 18 settlements in the *Gaza Strip. Their combined population in 2004 was about 7,800.
The Jewish settlement of Gush Katif aimed at creating a buffer zone in the face of terrorist attacks originating in the Gaza Strip following the *Six-Day War and at tactically controlling communications between the densely populated Arab sections of the Strip. The plan called for five "fingers" extending into the Strip. The first was located in northern Gaza and aimed at creating a belt of Jewish settlement from Ashkelon to the outskirts of Gaza city. The settlements Nisanit and Elei Sinai were established there. The second was located between Gaza city and Deir al-Balaḥ and included Netzarim. The third was located between Deir al-Balaḥ and Khan Yunis, and included the settlements Netzer Ḥazani, Katif, Kefar Darom, and Ganei Tal. The fourth "finger" was located between Khan Yunis and Rafa and included the settlements Gan Or, Gadid, Bedolaḥ, Atzmonah, Morag, Pe'at Sadeh, and Rafiaḥ Yam. The fifth finger, which was planned to connect the Rafa region with Sinai was not implemented. The plan was approved by the government and on October 11, 1970, Kefar Darom was established by a *Naḥal group. In February 1972 another Naḥal settlement was founded in Netzarim, and in September 1972 a third was established in Morag. Eight months later a fourth Nahal settlement was founded in Katif. In 1976 Katif became a civilian moshav. A year later, the name Katif was changed to Netzer Ḥazani, to commemorate Michael Ḥazani, the father of religious settlement. In 1978 a group of settlers established a new moshav, also called Katif. In 1979 Atzmonah and Ganei Tal were established. The remaining settlements were established in the 1980s, with Dugit the last in 1990. Netzarim became a civilian settlement in 1984, Bedolaḥ in 1986. Most residents earned their livelihoods from farming, with the area gaining fame for its hydroponically grown vegetables. Near Neveh Dekalim, an industrial area was established which included a garage, carpentry shop, press, etc.
During the years 1987–92, the years of the first Intifada, Gush Katif settlers suffered from Arab attacks, mainly stone throwing on the roads. Two Kefar Darom residents were killed. During these years all the settlements were expanded
and absorbed new residents. From October 2000, the start of the second, "al-Aqsa" Intifada, the settlements of Gush Katif came under constant terrorist attacks: gunfire, suicide bombers, and Kassam rockets. In this period, 4,000 shells hit the settlements and 12 people were killed. In 2003 Prime Minister Ariel *Sharon announced his intention to evacuate the settlements in the Gaza Strip, perceived by many as a drain on Israel's defense resources and serving no ostensible purpose. Following his declaration, the settlers began an intensive campaign to reverse the decision but to no avail. All Gush Katif settlements were evacuated in August 2005 and subsequently dismantled.
The Gush Katif settlements were as follows:
atzmonah (Benei Atzmon) (Heb. עצמונה), religious agricultural community, established in 1978. In the 2002 the population was 566. The main farming branches were dairy cattle, poultry, field crops, and plant nurseries.
bedolaḤ (Heb. בדולח), religious moshav, established in 1986 in affiliation with *Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi. In 2002 the population was 189, earning its livelihood in advanced greenhouse farming.
dugit (Heb. דוגית), established in 1990 in the northern Gaza strip, near the seashore. In 2002 the population was 65 inhabitants. Residents earned their livelihoods in various occupations connected with the sea.
elei sinai (Heb. אלי סיני), established in 1983 by former *Yammit residents. Located in the northern Gaza Strip, 9 mi. (15 km.) south of Ashkelon, near the seashore. In 2002 the population was 347. Most of the residents were professional people.
gadid (Heb. דידג), religious moshav, established in 1982. In 2002 the population was 298. Farming was mainly of the greenhouse variety.
gan or (Heb. רוא ןג), religious moshav, established in 1983 in affiliation with Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi. In 2002 the population was 274. Farming was based on greenhouses.
ganei tal (Heb. גני טל), religious moshav, established in 1979. In 2002 the population was 273. The main farming branches were organic and nonorganic vegetables, flowers, nursery plants, and herbs.
katif (Heb. קטיף), religious moshav, established in 1985. In 2002 the population was 338. The main farming branches were nursery plants, dairy, and organic vegetables.
kefar darom (Heb. כפר דרום), established in 1970. In 2002 the population was 324. Residents earned a living in farming, education, and various professions.
kefar yam (Heb. םי רפכ), established in 1983 on the remains of a holiday village operated by the Egyptian army. The settlement numbered just four families, who earned their living as greenhouse farmers and professionals.
morag (Heb. מורג), religious moshav, established in 1972 as a Naḥal settlement, became a civilian settlement in 1983. Affiliated with Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi. In 2002 the population was 170. Farming was mainly of the greenhouse variety.
neveh dekalim (Heb. נווה דקלים), religious community, established in 1983. Neveh Dekalim was the largest settlement in Gush Katif and served as an urban center for the rest of the settlements. In 2002 its population was 2,470.
netzer Ḥazani (Heb. נצר חזני), religious moshav, established in 1973. In 2002 the population was 316. Farming mainly took place in greenhouses.
netzarim (Heb. נצרים), established in 1972 as a Nahal settlement, became a civilian community in 1984. Located in the center of the Gaza Strip. In 2002 the population was 409 inhabitants. Residents earned their livelihoods in farming, education, and the professions.
nisanit (Heb. ניסנית), established in 1980 as a Nahal settlement, became a civilian community in 1993. In 2002 the population was 1,000, working in the region's settlements.
pe'at sadeh (Heb. פאת שדה), established in 1989. In 2002 the population was 110, religious and secular, most employed in farming.
rafi'aḤ yam (Heb. רפיח ים), established in 1984. In 2002 the population was 128 inhabitants, most employed in advanced greenhouse farming.
shalev (Heb. שליו), established in 1980 as a Naḥal settlement. In 2002 the population was composed of ten families of former Yammit residents.
In addition there were a number of unauthorized settlements in Gush Katif: Tel Katifa (Heb. תל קטיפא), established 1992, 15 families; Shirat ha-Yam (Heb. שירת הים), established 2001, six families; Kerem Atzmonah (Heb. כרם עצמונה), established 2001; five families.
E. Buhadana and U. Yablonka, "Mish'al Ḥayeikhem" ("The Opinion Poll of Their Lives"), in: Ma'ariv (April 16, 2004); M. Friedman, "Life Goes on in Gaza," in: The Jerusalem Report (April 5, 2004). website: www.katif.net.
[Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]