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The latest report on the former Gush Katif communities (http://www.katifund.org/English/) shows a satisfactory educational situation - but severe housing and other problems. The report, issued in December 2006/Kislev 5767 by the Gush Katif Committee, describes the situation of the Disengagement-expelled residents after 16 months of homelessness.
45% of the residents, or some 1,460 men and women, are still unemployed, and only 150 out of 700 business-owners have reopened their businesses. The expelled residents are no longer eligible for unemployment or adjustment-period payments.
Some 500 families are receiving food packages and other aid from welfare organizations.
Only 33 out of 400 farmers have received alternate lands, and only a small number of them have resumed actual production. In general, they have lost their markets, customers and connections abroad, and various bureaucratic and other issues have cost them much of their potential income. The impending Shmittah year [during which the Torah forbids agricultural work in the Land of Israel, except via complex legal machinations - ed.] only compounds the expected losses.
Of the 1,667 families listed as having lived in Gush Katif last summer, nearly 7/8 of them continue to live in their communal frameworks - waiting for bureaucracy-mired permanent housing solutions.
For instance, some 50 families of Ganei Tal are living in a "caravilla" site (pre-fab temporary homes made to look permanent) in Yad Binyamin, and most of the families from N'vei Dekalim, Gan-Or, Gadid, and others are living in Nitzan. Several dozen other N'vei Dekalim families are in Ein Tzurim, while families from Netzarim and Atzmona are in the Halutza area.
Only one agreement has been signed with the government for a new permanent replacement community. It involves some 45 families from two northern Gaza communities, Elei Sinai and Nisanit, which are to live in Bat Hadar, just outside Ashkelon. Construction has begun, and the families are expected to move in "soon."
Families that rented apartments on the private market, whether after or before the expulsion, find themselves in total uncertainty regarding the continuation of government rental aid. This problem affects mainly families in Kibbutz Or HaNer, Carmiya and Ashkelon, who are dependent on the good will of their landlords.
Sixteen months after the expulsion, some families have received the entire compensation as stipulated by law, while other have been given nothing at all. The remainder have received various amounts in between.
Entire sectors - farmers, businessmen, and the officially unrecognized communities - "appear to have no recourse," the report states, "in the face of the clauses of the Compensation Law that prevents them from receiving the compensation they deserve."
The community of Tel Katifa - 18 families living in northern Gush Katif for 13 years - has finally had its technical problems partially solved, and should be receiving some compensation soon.
Hundreds of families with special claims are being dealt with by a single "exceptions committee," which is having trouble dealing with the heavy load. Waiting-time for cases to be heard is between six and twelve months.
On the whole, the report states, the residents are satisfied with the Education Ministry's performance vis-a-vis their situation.
However, the following problems still exist: Many students have fallen behind in their studies because of a lack of educational frameworks; there is a higher dropout rate than there had been in Gush Katif; and the destabilization of the communal and family cells has strongly affected many students, leading to fears, apprehension, frustration and anger that make school-learning difficult.
"Many residents find themselves in a very difficult emotional state," the report states, "as a result of:
Among the issues is uncertainty regarding future living plans, which makes it emotionally hard to "close the door on the past." In addition, unemployed families are reduced to using up their compensation money to pay day-to-day expenses, unable to reserve them to rebuild homes in place of those that were destroyed.
More and more people require health care, both emotionally and physically. A study released last month shows that the frequency of high blood pressure, heart problems, and even malignant growths has increased by 75-90%. Diabetes and asthma attacks have also risen significantly.
The Gush Katif Committee asks that the government track down those
who were being treated for emotional problems and see how they are
faring. The Committee has found that the situation of most of most of
them has gotten worse; the families are not willing to make their own
efforts to begin once again with a new set of social workers - yet
would be willing to cooperate if counselors would arrive at their
In what sometimes appears to be a losing effort not to be forgotten by the Israeli public, the displaced residents of Gush Katif continue to pressure the gov't to provide them with permanent homes.
Bused out of their homes and towns in August of 2005, taken to live in hotels or domitories for up to several months, and finally brought to small, temporary, pre-fab homes "for the interim," many hundreds of former Gush Katif families still have no idea when they will be able to resume their lives.
Out of 25 possibilities for permanent communities - each of them involving families whose individual problems and hardships continue to intensify under the difficult conditions - the government has finalized only one (1) agreement.
The lone signed agreement, according to the Gush Katif Committee, involves 50 families from two northern Gaza communities, Elei Sinai and Nisanit, who are to live in Bat Hadar, just outside Ashkelon. Construction has started, and the families are expected to move in "soon."
However, 1,400 other families expelled from their homes during the Disengagement 15 months ago are not as lucky.
For instance, 30 families - also from Elei Sinai and Nisanit - that agreed to relocate to the Galilee last summer, continue even now to find themselves with no clear prospects for a permanent solution. Katif Committee spokesman Yinon Kadari writes,
"The decision [by the 30 families] to make a radical change and move to the northern community of Bustan HaGalil, just north of Acco, was made in light of the government's promise to enable them to build their lives and permanent homes within a year. However, over a year has passed - and nothing is being done to facilitate this."One man, 47-year-old Danny Deibuch, father of four, moved to a house in Bustan HaGalil that has begun to tilt, and has developed large cracks in many of the walls, plumbing leaks, and more. Danny, who has not found work in the north and who has not received government compensation for the expulsion, says,
"We would be willing to tolerate all this if only the government would fulfill its promise to get us settled quickly. But a year has passed, and nothing has been done; in fact, everything is worse. The house is in danger of collapse, no compensation has been paid us, we're still paying the mortgage on our old house that no longer exists, I have no work, the children live in uncertainty and are not doing well, marriages are endangered - and we have no more strength to fight windmills. I guess this is how the government wants to treat its citizens. The winter is coming, and I pray to G-d that there not be a catastrophe here."
It used to be that the Katif representatives, when reporting on their status, divided themselves up according to their original Gush Katif communities. Their latest report, however, lists the future communities they wish to build, noting only in passing the towns from which they originally hailed. The one thing that 24 of them have in common is that they are not finalized - and the families continue to wait.
Among the on-paper communities are:
Lior Kalfa, Chairman of the Katif Committee, recently wrote a letter to all the former residents of Gush Katif, saying,
"As we review the past 15 months since we were uprooted from our homes... we see the bureaucracy in the State of Israel piling up difficulties, and the decision makers not doing what is required to bring us quickly and with clear timetables to our permanent communities. The continuing uncertainty that has accompanied us for the past three years, ever since the 'uprooting plan' was first conceived, makes it difficult for us to function both as families and as communities."
"We demand of the Prime Minister and the Knesset to settle the expelled communities in permanent towns. We demand that every family have a signed agreement within two months, and emergency measures should be employed to this end. We demand that the Prime Minister issue clear directives, just as was done to execute the expulsion plan."
After emphasizing the importance of continued unity and cooperation among the families, Kalfa writes,
"As of now, after certain actions that include the involvement of several Knesset Members, the Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office is now personally involved in the issue of permanent communities. In addition, 62 MKs of all the parties - except the Arab parties - have signed the proposal to improve the original Evacuation-Compensation law. We continue to bring MKs to the area to see for themselves...
"We are full of hope that our just struggle will bear fruit speedily, and that we will merit to continue to rebuild our lives, and that unity will continue to be revealed amongst ourselves..."
I. The General Summary was published December 11, 2006 in Arutz
Sheva; II. on Permanent Housing was published October 27, 2006 in
Arutz Sheva. As can be seen, the housing situation has not changed
Hillel Fendel is editor of Arutz Sheva Daily News Service (www.IsraelNN.com).
I. The General Summary was published December 11, 2006 in Arutz Sheva; II. on Permanent Housing was published October 27, 2006 in Arutz Sheva. As can be seen, the housing situation has not changed significantly.
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