Former residents of Gush Katif and towns in northern Samaria that were evacuated in the summer of 2005 met the passing of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with mixed emotions. The man who was once considered the father of the settlement enterprise, but who orchestrated the disengagement in 2005, will forever remain in their minds wholly responsible for expelling them from their homes.
"Against all of his virtues, that's the measure he took -- which was unclear, illogically conceived, which brought us to the reality where rockets are falling on Rishon Lezion and Gedera and more than a million Israelis are living under a constant threat -- which I will always remember, not the other things he's done," said Lior Calpa, who lived in the Gaza Strip settlement of Neve Dekalim and was elected chairman of the Gush Katif Residents Committee after the Disengagement.
"Every day that I go to work and come home in the evening, I see the families in Nitzan. I know so many stories from every caravan and every family that has yet to see the horizon," he said. "This is my last memory of Sharon. I don't respect people whose opinion before the election is one way and then changes 180 degrees."
Dror Vanunu, a former Gush Katif spokesman, said he felt grief over the passing of a man whose life had been intertwined with Israeli history.
"Sharon led Israel to great achievements on the battlefield and other important areas, and brought about great development in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip; that's something that cannot be taken from him. Still, it's hard to ignore the fact that, alongside all of his great achievements throughout his time, his last act was actually unsuccessful. On the contrary, it was a failure from all angles. Today, because of the evacuation, the fate of Tel Aviv is the fate of Netzarim. What he did in the disengagement redefined his character," said Vanunu.
Vanunu said he regretted the apparent vindication among some right-wing individuals celebrating Sharon's death.
"We, the people of Gush Katif, aren't with them. Despite the profound disagreements, things were carried out on a practical level," he said.
For Yossi Dagan, who was removed from his home in the northern Samarian settlement of Sa-Nur during the disengagement, and who know serves as deputy chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, Sharon's passing raises difficult memories.
"Everything pops up again on a day like this. All of the trauma of the expulsion, all the terrible images of people being dragged from their homes on the earth. On the one hand, Sharon has ample virtues, but on the other hand his betrayal of the public, which admired him for so many years, turning against their values, maybe just to save himself from prosecution -- it all makes for mixed feelings."
Dagan also leveled criticism against the media for what he said was skewed coverage of the Sharon legacy.
"Every media outlet that chased him down in the past embraced him over the last few days. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, blessed be his memory, didn't manage to get such coverage when he passed away. In my opinion, it's just because of the disengagement," he said.
Condemning certain joyful expressions following Sharon's death, Dagan said, "When a Jew passes away, you should not show happiness. On the one hand, it's incorrect to ignore the terrible things he did and on the other hand it's forbidden to ignore the positive things he accomplished. We must respect his memory and recall both the bad and the good."
Avi Perhan, who was displaced twice from his home, the first time from Yamit in the Sinai Peninsula after the peace deal with Egypt, and the second time from Alei Sinai in the Gush Katif bloc, said: "I find myself with mixed emotions over everything related to Arik Sharon. I will always remember him as a hero of Israel, as a man of the public who did the most he could for the settlements, but on the flip side, he was a man who led us to the calamitous disengagement, which displaced hundreds of families from their homes and to this very day they still have yet to find repose or property.
"There will be a lot of people who will never forget the disengagement, and it will haunt them their entire lives. On this great day, I prefer to put aside all the arguments, the individual and family pain I suffered because of the disengagement."