There Is A Difference, But Not A Drastic One
Many people remember Avi Parchan, the last man to be evacuated 19 years ago from Yamit, who then proceeded to walk to Yerushalayim with a sign which said, "From Yamit to Yerushalayim." * In an interview with
Beis Moshiach, he discusses the present situation, when mortars fall not far from his doorstep, the mistakes Israel continues to make,
and what needs to be done to end this war.

Bio: Avi Parchan
Mr. Avrohom (Avi) Parchan was born in Tripoli, Libya in 1946. He moved to Eretz Yisroel at the age of three and grew up in transit camps. He studied in Mikve Yisroel, and while in the army he served in select units, including a commando fleet and the parachutists.

During the Six-Day War, Avi fought as an attack officer in Troop 9, in the legendary Tal unit under Gordish. In the War of Attrition he fought in the battles over the Suez, where he was wounded. He served for some time as the government-military commander in El-Arish.

Avi was one of the founders of Yamit and was one of the last to leave. He fought in Peace in Galilee, and was the military governor of the Nabatiya district in Lebanon. He finished his army service as a lieutenant colonel.

He founded Eli Sinai in the north of the Gaza Strip and initiated the founding of Nisnit and Dogit. Avi served as head of the Tichyeh movement and was a member of Amana, the movement that settles Yesha. He has also served in numerous other public positions.

* * *

Mr. Parchan, you live in Eli Sinai in the Gaza Strip. Youíve been under mortar attack lately.

True, we havenít been left out... Despite the circumstances, I must say that our chevra is stronger than ever. We all stand proudly as the Jewish settlement always did in the face of the enemy.

Today you are closer than ever to Shderot, since it too is under fire.

Eretz Yisroel is a single unit, as Chazal say. Whoever thought that by leaving Gaza he would solve the problem, has discovered that Gaza is now in Shderot, and in the near future it will also be in Ashkelon and other places, chas víchalila.

I want to take this opportunity to express my protest in reaction to what the mayor of Shderot, Eli Muell, said Ė that Shderot is not Gush Katif. That makes it sound like thereís a difference between a mortar that lands on the citizens of Shderot and a mortar that lands on Nisnit or Neve Dekalim. Iíd like to remind the mayor that Ashkelon is called Majedal in Arabic, and Ramat Aviv is Sheikh Munis, so thereís no reason to differentiate between them.

The joint Israeli and Palestinian security committee met and decided to cut down the violence in exchange for easing up restrictions on the Palestinians. What do you think about that?\

I have a simple question: If Arafat says he can cut down on the violence, it shows that he is in charge of whatís going on, and if so, why arenít we forcing him to cut the violence out altogether? What does cutting down the violence mean? That the mortars will only reach Netzarim and not Shderot? That the attacks will only be in Kfar Saba and not on Dizengoff?

What should be done?

The time has come for us to understand that there is only one solution: fighting to defeat the P.L.O. They have made a laughingstock of the Oslo Accords, which has long ceased to be relevant to them. I call on the Left to stop chasing after Arafat. We canít go on this way. If we donít fight them, theyíll finish us off, chív. The mortars aimed at Shderot are only a taste of whatís in store.

Letís go back a bit to the withdrawal of the military from Gaza after Sharon announced we were going in, and then, in less than 24 hours, we were out. How do you, as a seasoned veteran, understand what happened?

First of all, I am upset by the fact that every officer today speaks to the media. The time has come to stop talking and start doing. The armyís goal ought to be to fight the enemy and not to make declarations. Now to your question about what everybody called the failed action in Gaza, I think it would have been better if they hadnít gone in altogether. I canít get into the details because I am not familiar with them, but whatís clear is that they messed up.

Do you see a difference since Sharon came into power?

There is a difference, but not a drastic one. Itís definitely not what we anticipated. On the one hand I understand Sharon. He knows that if he takes drastic action the whole world will scream that we are being dragged into another Lebanon.

Mubarak mentioned the war in Lebanon in connection with the action taken in GazaÖ

Mubarak is our greatest enemy. With his strategy of peace, he managed to topple Israel. If you look at the manís body language and at his slyness, you see that he is one of our most dangerous enemies.

What should be done now?

We have to increase our attacks against the Palestinians bit by bit, so that the Israeli public begins to understand precisely who we are dealing with, and then when the goal is clear, we can take bigger steps in the war against Arafat and his soldiers.

And then?

I believe that the Jewish nation will recover and end this story whose name is Arafat. The time has come to fire at them until they beg us to stop. Unfortunately, and I say this openly, if we continue the way we have up until now, additional korbanos will fall, chalila.

Right after Oslo, the Right spoke about katyushas against Ashkelon. It looks as though the Right was correct. Have we gotten halfway there yet?

Exactly eight years ago we distributed a map showing the Palestinianís ability to attack Ashkelon, Shderot, etc. We showed the aerial distance and the danger of falling katyushas, and everybody laughed at us. Peres mocked the Right at every opportunity. Now I say we should establish a government committee to investigate who went to meet Arafat and the P.L.O. when it was illegal? Who gave them rifles and bullets and explosives? Who is responsible for the murder of 500 Jews since the Oslo Accords? The failure of Oslo is no less serious than the failure of the Yom Kippur War, and in my opinion it is far more serious.

Youíre talking about investigating Oslo. In the meantime, thereís a committee investigating what happened in October in the Arab sector.

They formed this committee only to appease the Arabs so they would vote for Barak. The point is that what we see now as the results of Oslo is just the tip of the iceberg. Itís just the beginning of what Oslo will bring us, and if we donít understand this, we are in serious trouble.

What should be done today? Do you have the answers?

There is only one solution and that is to grab Arafat and his security leaders, put them on a plane and send them back to Tunis. If youíve followed events over the last few decades, youíve noticed that wherever Arafat is, thereís turmoil and destruction. This has been the case in Lebanon, Egypt, Damascus, and Jordan.

The only solution is to send him to Tunis or any Arab country that agrees to have him. In the meantime we must ground him and not allow him to fly wherever he pleases and continue to rouse public support. By now everybody knows that he uses his plane to transport weapons. Israel must ground him, plain and simple.

Do you think there will be additional katyushas?

Itís got to be clear: It wonít end with mortars shot at Shderot, Nisnit, or Eli Sinai. Their military resources are only expanding, and every Israeli citizen is in the same boat as us. Today itís Shderot and tomorrow itís Ashkelon, and the next day itBnei Brak. No allowances will be made for any Jew. The faster we get the message and fight accordingly, the better for us. It will prevent future losses.

The war is not against the Palestinians but against Arafat, the head of the snake himself. I say this because I know this to be the truth. Many of the Arabs living in Gaza are frustrated with Arafat and speak harshly against him. Heís the man responsible for their problems. They themselves say that until he came to Gaza, life was okay, and now they have problems. He and his henchmen steal their money and pride, robbing their very own brothers.

You are considered close with Sharon. Where do you think heís heading?

Sharon is trying to get us to a consensus and then heíll deal with the situation. Itís not a simple thing to fight the enemy when thereís a unity government with people who want to appease Arafat, undermining Sharonís government. Take, for example, Minister Salah Tarif. I donít know if heís a minister, considering his underhanded behavior. The bottom line is, I still hope that Sharon will seriously bring an end to the terror and destruction that Arafat is causing, and will dismantle the P.A.

What do you think the source of our problems with the Palestinians is?

The Camp David agreement. Until the Israeli government expresses remorse over the Camp David agreement, which is the source of all our troubles, we wonít succeed in this war. Camp David is the source of all the major tzaros we have suffered in the past two decades.

Exactly 19 years ago, they eradicated and uprooted every last Jewish vestige from Sinai. I was the last one to be evacuated from Yamit. I left on foot with my wife and eldest daughter, with a sign that said, "From Yamit to Yerushalayim," implying that the fate of Yerushalayim would be like Yamit, chív. People laughed at me, thinking I was crazy for mentioning Yerushalayim. Today everybody sees what has happened.

But since then there have been no wars with Egypt.

The Egyptians are waiting for us in the corner. They will yet wage war with us. Thanks to us they have modern weapons and a strong army. They constantly speak about liquidating Eretz Yisroel. There are underground bunkers in Sinai in contradiction to the agreement. They have gas lines in the bunkers and are organized so they can mobilize their forces at short notice. We still have to study the Egyptianís military strategy Ė how they managed to hoodwink the am chacham vínavon (the wise nation).

How did they succeed?

The Egyptians understood that they would not vanquish us in a conventional war. The president of Tunisia in the Ď60ís, Burgiva, once told Nasser that he would never win wars against the Jews as long as they were unified. He suggested a peace strategy, in which the Western world would not be on their side.

Sadat took that approach and Mubarak was sent to the Arab nations in order to explain the new strategy. Surprisingly, shortly after most of the Arab nations broke off ties with Egypt, relations returned to normal. Not only that, but Egypt became the spokesman for the Arab world.

I am certain that Mubarak is planning war. He is one of our worst enemies. Unfortunately, Israel hasnít gotten this message yet, and who knows how many more tzaros we have to contend with because of Camp David.

Sharon was responsible in no small measure for these agreements.

I would put it like this: Sharon was roped in. The leader who accepted the decision was Menachem Begin, and only he is responsible for what happened. At the time, I asked Begin to express regret for what he did so that others wouldnít follow his lead. It was Sharon who was the only one to openly express regret for what happened in Sinai. He was interviewed and even wrote articles about it. I have yet to see an Israeli leader admit his mistakes.

Are you saying that you have confidence in Sharon?

You can rely only on Hashem. I donít rely on any leaders. You have to constantly keep your finger on the pulse and not fall asleep while on guard. Iím sorry to say that even the leadership of Yesha is not active enough in the goal of averting the evil decree. I think we failed in Yamit and weíre not on track here either.

Did you have a connection with the Rebbe?

I always read the Rebbeís sichos about Eretz Yisroel, and they opened my eyes. I saw the awesome power of the Rebbe in his addressing the issues of the time. On 30 Nissan 5750 I visited the Rebbe at "dollars" and the Rebbe told me that regarding the political situation, his position of not giving an inch was known.

When they evacuated Yamit, we were in touch with the Rebbe and his Chassidim in Eretz Yisroel. Iíd like to mention Chabad spokesman Berke Wolf, aíh, who helped us tremendously in the stubborn battle over Yamit, along with other Chabad Chassidim who came to help us.

I call upon Chabad Chassidim to join the fray regarding the future of Eretz Yisroel. Itís no simple matter and we need a lot of patience to win. Whoever walks in the sure paths of the Rebbe must be alert seven times over, in light of whatís going on here.

Letís go back 19 years to the withdrawal from Yamit. What happened back then?

The nation was euphoric over peace. Many settlers took the reparations being offered them in exchange for leaving Yamit, causing us to be insufficiently united. Iím sure that if we had been united we could have stopped the disgrace.

I was one of the founders of Yamit, and I was the last one to leave. We founded the Maoz organization in order to fight the withdrawal. We did a lot, but obviously not enough. We were a few against the many.

Iíll never forget the day they evacuated me, a black day in my life. Youíll remember that there was tremendous opposition from Yamit. Many waited to see how Avi Parchan would be evacuated. Would he physically oppose them?

Hundreds of soldiers came in order to evacuate me. I went outside to take care of my lawn and the commander came to take me out of the settlement. I asked him to hold a flag-raising ceremony before he evacuated me. Then I began to walk to Yerushalayim with the sign, "From Yamit to Yerushalayim," along with my wife and eldest daughter. I walked all the way to Yerushalayim, accompanied by lots of people from the media.

I went to the Kotel where thousands were gathered. Rabbi Getz, the rav of the Kotel, greeted me and took my sign which he put away until I would return to Yamit.

I moved to the Gaza Strip, to a yishuv called Eli Sinai, which expresses the yearning to return to Sinai.

How did the dismantling of Yamit affect you and your friends?

The evacuation of Yamit was tremendously traumatic. It left scars even on those who took reparations. They forcefully took people out of their homes and destroyed the very houses that provided people with a sense of security. Many people were emotionally hurt by this. These scars will never disappear. I call upon all prime ministers, past and present, not to repeat the mistake Begin made, a mistake that brought us to Oslo and to all the troubles we are suffering from now.

Following your evacuation from Yamit, you became a baal teshuva. What made you take that step?

I made a soul-reckoning, and I began to ask people what it is that has kept us going for thousands of years. The answer was the Torah. The withdrawal from Sinai was not merely a territorial withdrawal from a particular area, but a deep withdrawal from values, from Eretz Yisroel, and from our Torah.

Thatís how many others saw it as well. After the evacuation, people from Yamit cried and asked: Now how will we educate our children? With which values? These questions caused may people to return to the sources.

In conclusion:

As believing Jews we donít have to be influenced by what goes on. We must be strong and raise a hue and cry and stand in the breach, and we hope that with Hashemís help, our nation will reunite. It wonít be long before everybody recognizes the real problems in light of the challenges that will face them, and with Hashemís help we will be speedily redeemed.


Do you see a difference since Sharon came into power?


There is a difference, but not a drastic one. Itís definitely not what we anticipated.





The war is not against the Palestinians but against Arafat, the head of the snake himself.





I have a simple question: If Arafat says he can cut down on the violence, it shows that he is in charge of whatís going on, and if so, why arenít we forcing him to cut the violence out altogether? What does cutting down the violence mean?


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