The first settlement

Kfar Darom was founded in 1946 on land that had been purchased by the orchard-owner Tuvia Miller in the 1930’s. Kfar Darom is named after the place of residence of the Tana Rabbi Elazar ben Yitzchak, who was named Ish Dfar Darom - a man from Kfar Darom, as mentioned in the Talmud Bavli. From the initial days of its existence (before the establishment of the state of Israel), the settlement suffered constant, recurring attacks from local Arab populations, and subsequently, when the War of Independence began, suffered severe attacks from Egyptian forces. The defenders of the yishuv, numbering about 60 people, succeeded in repelling these attacks which included airplane, artillery and infantry raids. The settlement’s residents suffered many losses and casualties, but couldn’t evacuate the wounded because of the tight siege imposed upon them by the Egyptians. In light of intelligence reports that Egyptian forces plan to conquer Kfar Darom, it was decided to evacuate the yishuv a night before the scheduled invasion, and indeed, the next day, Egyptian infantry encountered an empty settlement.

During the Six Day War, the IDF captured the Sinai peninsula and the Gaza Strip, which included Kfar Darom, wresting it from Egyptian control. With the blessing of Golda Meir, Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, a Bnei Akiva Nachal outpost was established at that location. However, this settlement did not last very long. In 1988, Yitzchak Rabin, then Minister of Defense, authorized the resettlement of Kfar Darom and two years later a permanent core [gar’in] of settlers came to live there.

The new Kfar darom

The members of the settlement who arrived there intended to return and remain there and never abandon the place again. In Kfar Darom they built their homes, constructed buildings for public use and a Beit Knesset named after the holy Tana, Rabbi Elazar ben Yitzchak. They dealt in land cultivation and agricultural development, setting up greenhouses, etc. The land yielded and was agreeable towards its returning sons, issuing an abundance of crops, the majority of which were exported throughout the world. Additional families joined, trees were planted, babies were born, and a vibrant and healthy community life began to flourish. The residents of the settlement found employment in agriculture, education and a variety of trained professions. Unique educational institutions were established in Kfar Darom – a Torah and Agriculture Institute, a Midrasha for Jewish studies, to further knowledge and identification with our Jewish culture, and a Kollel training for hora’ah, psika and dayanut. The settlement and its community could be typified as a place where people led active lives of Torah study and practice and acts of chesed, as well as Zionistic creation and activity, and enjoyed a peaceful and tranquil relationship with their Arab neighbors.

 

Life in the shadow of terror

After the Oslo pact was signed, the majority of governmental authorities in Gaza were transferred to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Although Gush Katif remained in Israeli hands, Kfar Darom remained an enclave under Israeli rule, within a region controlled by the PA. The relations with the local Arab population deteriorated and recurring terror attacks targeted the settlement, whose members withstood all of these with tremendous courage and fortitude and faith in Hashem. The most memorable of these attacks occurred in 2000 when an anti-vehicle bomb exploded on a bus transporting children to school in Atzmona. 2 teachers were killed and tens of children wounded, their wounds of varying severity, and some of these children remain maimed even today. The Israeli government decided on that same day, to establish a local school for the children of Kfar Darom, and this brought about the establishment of Kfar Darom’s Talmud Torah and School, which is still functioning today.

Despite the many attacks, the residents of Kfar Darom held fast to the place and never stopped building and being built. The number of residents was doubled and many additional families joined the yishuv to strengthen and fortify the place.

 

Kfar Darom is destroyed – the expulsion

In 2005, the Israeli government, headed by Ariel Sharon, decided to expel the Jewish settlers from the entire Gaza strip, and destroy all of their settlements. The residents of Kfar Darom, like all residents of Gush Katif, vehemently opposed this unilateral step and held intensive demonstrations demanding that this plan be rescinded. But despite their exerted efforts, the expulsion plan was implemented, the Jewish residents of the Gaza strip were expelled, and all their settlements, every single one, completely destroyed.