The time is midday. The date is April 21st, 1982, the last day of the town of Yamit. The bulldozers have already finished demolishing all the houses of the town, but in the corner of the south eastern quarter, one house is still standing amongst the rubble. A square white washed villa with a flat roof, accommodating the command centre of the General of the Southern Command Chaim Erez. We climb up onto the roof, look around us at the vast area of ruins which resembles somewhat pictures of the town of Hiroshima after it was hit by the atom bomb. From a distance we watch IDF engineers offloading large amounts of explosives from their vehicles and preparing the commercial centre building to be blown up later in the day.
Since the morning we have been out in the area, we saw trucks loaded with furniture, building materials and agricultural machinery heading east towards Israel. In one of the villages, the last settlers still stood on high ladders, removing tiles from rooftops and loading them onto waiting vehicles. A surrealistic feeling of pre-doomsday. During many weeks we have been listening to the General of the Southern Command negotiating with the settlers, trying to assist and convince, We shook our heads in disbelief when members of Gush Emunim, men with beards and Yarmulkes and women with covered heads, told him unequivocally that they will barricade themselves on the roofs of the central buildings and commit mass suicide, Masada style. We looked at them and the coin suddenly dropped – just as we were certain that they were insane, so did they look at us and were certain that we were insane.
The evacuation is coming to an end. In the command centre inside the house, weapons, radio transceivers, maps and documents are being collected. I go down the stairs, roam around the empty and lifeless rooms, enter the kitchen which has its walls covered in dark green tiles. In a sudden urge, I use the blade of my knife, detach one rectangular green tile from the wall and slide it into my leg pocket. I still have the tile kept in some box. The General and the others present come out of the house and move some distance away. The bulldozers start their engines, move forwards and bite into the white walls. Within minutes, that which was until a short time ago a beautiful villa is also turned into rubble.
The engineers make radio contact and ask everyone to leave the area so that they can proceed with the blowing up of the commercial centre. The helicopters take off and turn eastwards. The vehicles leave and they, too, turn to the east. Far out of sight, a huge, roaring thunder rises from the explosion site. Yamit is no more. For the first time since the Second World War, a whole Jewish town is completely destroyed, this time as the price of peace, and in the hands of Israelis.