During the lsraeli disengagement from the Gaza strip in August 2005, about 1.800 Jewish families were obliged to leave, mostly against their will, their personal and social life spheres. The families had to cope with significant simultaneous losses: the destruction of their homes; the loss of the geographic and historical space of their families and communities; the loss of employment and income; the loss of the community network; the loss of social legitimacy, trust in and feeling of belongingness to the lsraeli state and its institutions. Beside the difficulties associated with the losses, we found among the settlers examples of considerable resilience and, in some cases, occurrences of posttraumatic growth. While most of the scholars dealing with the impact of war and home demolition on families focus on pathology and trauma, they largely ignore the coping aspects and strengths individuals, families, and communities develop whilst undergoing these traumata.
The present paper addresses the strengths and coping strategies individuals and families have developed to cope with the losses and successfully build new personal and collective identities. It is argued that coping strategies and resilience can be understood only through an accurate understanding of the various dimensions of the meaning of ‘home’, place attachment and place identity as well as the settlers’ personal and collective meaning and explanation of the losses. Lessons for professionals drawn from these experiences will be addressed.