Many of their fellow teenagers like to play the guitar on the Tel Aviv waterfront. But for youths in Gaza settlements, life is no beach. The prospect of being uprooted from their homes has made many grow up remarkably quickly. In the last few months they have gone on protest marches, blocked roads, evaded military patrols in the dark and scuffled with police.
Liberal Israelis say their parents are cynically exploiting them for media coverage, but the youngsters appear to feel as strongly as the older generations. “We don’t come here for fun,” one young man said at a protest. “We come here because we believe in an ideal and we believe that with God’s help we can stop this withdrawal.” One thing is for sure – soldiers can expect some of the stiffest resistance to the pullout to come from the Jewish youth of Gaza. In political developments, the Israeli prime minister appears to have softened his stance on further evacuations from the West Bank once the Gaza plan is completed. Currently only four enclaves there are set to be dismantled. In a newspaper interview, Ariel Sharon has hinted that some other outposts would go as part of a final peace deal with the Palestinians. Previously he had taken a harder line on keeping West Bank settlements.