Gerald F. Murray
Research on the Gaza Strip

     In the summer of 2005, I spent a month in the Hebrew-speaking Israeli moshav of Ganei Tal  ("Gardens of Dew")., located in the southwestern quadrant of the Gaza Strip only several kilometers from the Egyptian border.    This is a religious Israeli agricultural community that had been in existence since the early 1970's.   The community, and indeed more than 20 other Israeli communities in this part of Gaza referred to by Israelis as Gush Katif,  had been slated by the government of Ariel Sharon for involuntary evacuation and demolition at the end of the summer.  (The evacuation in effect took place in mid-August) 

    In June people were still hoping that the "decree would be nullified" and that they would not be thrown out of their homes.  With the consent of several people in the community,   I settled in for a month to carry out research during this very trying period in the lives of the people.   There was an empty in-law apartment in the community whose owners rented it out to me for the month of June. 

     The residents of Ganei Tal were furious at the image portrayed of them by the Israeli and international media, largely in favor of the expulsion.   Whereas the media referred to the Palestinians lobbing mortars at them every day (with no response from Sharon's government) as "Palestinian militants",  the residents of Ganei Tal and other Israeli communities in Gush Katif were routinely referred to by journalists as right-wing religious fundamentalist extremists for resisting the efforts to expel them and demolish their homes.   Some initially harbored suspicions that I, as an anthropologist,  had come with the same agenda.

     I told them that I had four research questions that I wished to pursue that could give an honest account of who they were and what they had been doing for three decades in Gaza. 
   At their request, I agreed to begin posting my notes and observations immediately on the community's website, which served as the information clearinghouse for the entire region of Gush Katif.   I warned them that  my writing would be anthropological in character, quite different in tone from the angry protests that filled the website against the impending evacuation.  After a brief period of nervousness concerning my intentions, I was able to do life-histories of over a dozen families and carry out detailed observations of the local agrarian, familial, educational, religious, and militia systems that had evolved in the past three decades. 

    I posted the following five  essays in the course of a month.    My interviewing was done in Hebrew, but as is common in Israeli academia my writeup was in English.  The essays are still on the community's website, accessed through  under the link Anthropological Notes. 

Essay 1:  Introduction
Essay 2: Three decades of economic and social evolution in Gush Katif
Essay 3: Land in southwestern Gaza
Essay 4: Preliminary Steps to Farming: Choosing a Moshav
Essay 5: Anthropology of Expulsion