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This was written by Gil Ronen and is called "Gaza Refugees Suffering from Rain, Mice." It appeared January 31, 2008 in Arutz-Sheva (www.IsraelNationalNews.com).
(IsraelNN.com) The Gush Katif expellees once endured Kassams and terrorist tunnels. Now they have other things raining on them and burrowing under them.
Families that were forcibly evicted from Gush Katif in 2005 and relocated in "caravillas" in the community of Nitzan have asked the "Sela" disengagement authority to provide them with alternative housing, after the rain damaged their homes in recent days and made them uninhabitable.
The "caravillas" are upgraded temporary pre-fab homes. According to Nrg, the rain and sleet Israel has been experiencing in the past few days caused serious damage to many of them. Water is leaking from the ceilings and floors, and in some cases has caused short circuits and blackouts.
Yigal Kirshenzaft, who was evicted from Atzmona to Nitzan, said: "Everything here was built very amateurishly. When the storm had just started, our house's ceiling began dripping rain down on us. In last night's tempest, the whole caravilla moved, the roof banged and the children couldn't sleep at night. That is why they didn't go to school. We felt like a ship at sea."
"Because of the amateurish construction," Kirshenzaft explained, "the windows and doors are not sealed and they move all the time. Even air conditioners that work 24 hours a day can't warm the house. This week, because of the water that leaked in, we had a power outage in half of the house. We spoke to Amigur (a subsidiary company of the Jewish Agency which provides housing solutions) but no one came to fix it. We just had to dry it out on our own, and wait for the sun to come out and help us."
Of mice and men
"Yesterday I turned to the Sela administration and asked to receive alternative housing. If the children and I can't sleep at night and we have a river flowing through this cardboard box called a caravilla, I want them to give me another place instead of the one they took away from me."
"No one is helping us," Kirshenzaft said. "Amigur told us it was the council's responsibility, the council referred us to the Housing Ministry and the Housing Ministry referred us to the Sela administration.
"This rain also helps our biggest enemies here: the mice. When the walls are cardboard and wet, the mice gnaw through them even more easily and enter the home. We spend entire nights chasing the mice. There is a terrible plague of mice; mousetraps are the hottest item in the grocery store."
Sela: illegal homes
Doron Ben Shlomi, chairman of the Gush Katif Settlers Council, told Nrg: "The winter has given the state of Israel yet another failing mark in the way it treated the Gush Katif expellees. The bad conditions... are a direct result of the government's treatment of the expellees. This is the third winter in which they are living in plaster homes, and their move to permanent housing seems further away than ever." In the meantime, he said, it is the government which must fix the houses, immediately."
The Sela Administration said: "the flooding is caused by the
illegal homes placed in the location by expellees who are not eligible
for temporary housing. The structures changed the drainage flow and
are causing the flooding. Despite that, the Sela Administration,
together with the Housing Ministry, is taking care of the matter to
avoid further discomfort to the evacuees. The Sela Administration once
again calls upon the temporary housing residents to take charge of
their destiny, sign the agreements and start planning their permanent
This was written by Hillel Fendel and is called "Gush Katif Residents Again Under the Gun". It was published January 31, 2008 in Arutz Sheva.
(IsraelNN.com) The latest chapter in the ongoing tribulations of the former residents of Gush Katif is that their bank accounts may be cracked into by officials to collect property taxes. The Ashkelon Coast Regional Council says the taxes are unpaid, and some 500 families of expellees say that the taxes are being unfairly demanded.
The story began in the summer of 2005, when over 1,650 families living in Gush Katif were made homeless under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement withdrawal plan from Gaza. The Knesset had passed an Evacuation/Compensation law several months earlier, attempting to guarantee fair compensation for the families' losses.
But as many reports have demonstrated, the law's goals were not met.
"We are dealing with a government and an administration [the government's Aid to the Uprooted Administration, known as SELA –– ed.] that are accustomed to not fulfilling their word," says Laurence Beziz, formerly of Gush Katif who now works on behalf of the expelled residents in the Gush Katif Committee. She and her family, together with some 500 other families, are being housed in the temporary town of Nitzan, just north of Ashkelon, in pre-fab houses they bitterly call "caravillas."
"It's true that for many of us, the property tax they want us to pay [here in Nitzan] is not totally beyond our means," Ms. Beziz told Arutz-7. "But for many of us, it is! There are those who still have no jobs and have not received compensation for their businesses and farms, and who don't have food in their refrigerators. We have to stand together –– especially when dealing with a body that simply doesn't fulfill its word."
"For instance," she continued, "they promised that after two years, we would be living in our permanent homes –– or in other words, that our share in the price of Israel's decision to quit Gaza was to be 'only' two years without a home. And now, it's already two and a half years later, and not only are we not in our permanent homes, but they are just beginning now to build the infrastructures for our permanent neighborhood in Nitzanim."
Asked what the official timetable, Laurence said, "They say –– and we know what their word is worth –– that by November, ten months from now, they will be ready to start the lottery for the distribution of the various plots of land. But even then, there are still many unresolved issues, such as the fact that we will have much less land than we had before, and whether children who get married will be able to live in our neighborhoods as they would have done in Gush Katif, and more."
She says that over the course of time, roughly 1,000 families have received the full amount of compensation for their homes, though not necessarily for their farms and businesses. "The other families' compensation is being held up by an old conflict regarding the precise assessment of the value of their homes," Beziz said, "with no solution in sight. This affects those who took advantage of the government's offer to have their homes privately assessed."
Property Tax History
The property tax issue was not a problem in 2006, when the Regional Council waived the charge. In January 2007, however, the tax was instated –– but the residents did not pay. "We admit that we receive services, and we admit that they offered us a possible 50% discount," Beziz said. "But the point is more that temporary residential structures such as ours are exempt from property taxes all over the country, and there is no reason why we should have to pay. Moreover, this entire area is not zoned for residential use; all that happened is that [Ariel] Sharon came here one day and gave the order to build temporary homes on this agricultural land –– but when we leave, it will revert to its original agricultural use."
"In any event, we have now received letters saying that they plan to break into our bank accounts in order to take the property tax," Beziz said.
No Shopping Center –– Catastrophic for Small Business Owners
"The lack of a shopping center here is another example of their not keeping their word," Ms. Beziz said. "They said they would build us a shopping center, in which all the small businesses could be concentrated, just like we had in N'vei Dekalim. But of course, they didn't build it, leading to this place [Nitzan] looking like a refugee camp –– with little businesses and stores behind or next to the caravan houses. Many businesses can't prosper that way, and that's why many people are simply not making it."
Another legal struggle in which the residents are involved is their demand to ensure that they live in a rural setting, and not an urban one. To this end, they have filed a court suit demanding that their new future neighborhood of Nitzanim be made part of the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, and not, as it is currently designated, part of the Municipality of Ashkelon.
New School –– Finally
Ironically, beginning this week, the children of Nitzan –– the largest concentration of Gush Katif families –– are able to attend school without having to take a bus. The Nitzanei Katif elementary school, including Grades 1-8 for boys and 1-6 for girls, began operating this week in Nitzan –– two and a half years after their expulsion from their homes. Beziz and her neighbors are happy about the new situation, but, she asks, "is it believable that it actually took this long for it to happen?"
Encouraged by the Good
With all the bitterness, Beziz doesn't forget to mention the good: "We are encouraged by the many good things that are happening –– not due to the government, or to the left-wingers who so sweetly told us to 'Come back home [from Gaza] to Israel' –– but rather due to the orange camp and to our own determination. For instance, the Yeshivat Hesder in N'vei Dekalim has opened its doors in its permanent location in Ashdod, and other Torah institutions from Gush Katif are working strongly for the People of Israel as well."
The 22nd of Shvat
Beziz noted that today, the 22nd of Shvat, is a special day: "It is
the date we designated two years ago for schools to remember and teach
about Gush Katif. Some 50 volunteers are in schools around the country
–– mostly religious schools, I admit –– giving
lectures, showing films, and presenting exhibits on Gush Katif. We
hope that this initiative will become stronger in coming years." For
more information, visit the Gush Katif Committee website at
Lee Caplan (firstname.lastname@example.org) has compiled these items.
Gush Katif Expellees Suffering Psychological Trauma
(IsraelNN.com) Approximately one of every five former residents of Gush Katif have sought psychological treatment since their expulsion in 2005, according to a study submitted to the Knesset Subcommittee on Evacuee Affairs on Monday. Approximately 1,700 people sought counseling through Ma'anim mental-health service, with yet more former Gush Katif residents seeking help privately.
Welfare services are currently required by at least 710 families, an increase of 77.5 percent since prior to the expulsion.
According to the report, the lack of governmental solutions for the residents has led to a breakdown in many families of parental control or ability to provide financial stability, marital discord, depression, and a diminished sense of belonging. Construction of permanent homes which were promised to the former residents of Gush Katif has begun in only 2 of the 25 locations designated to absorb the evictees.
Gaza Expellees Sue PMO head Raanan Dinur
(IsraelNN.com) A group of families planning to settle in the Lachish region, including dozens of families that were expelled from Gaza in 2005, has filed a suit against Prime Minister's Office Director-General Raanan Dinur for allegedly violating a promise. Dinur promised the would-be residents of Lachish that their 500 square meter plots of land would cost NIS 148,000 each, but later raised the price to NIS 240,000.
The families say that several experts, including one working for the government, have assessed the value of the plots of land at between NIS 100,000-140,000. Their attorney, Yossi Fuchs, said, "The state should not spit in the expellee's faces as they continue their pioneering efforts despite the suffering they experienced. The state must fulfill its promises."
If you would like to participate in the wonderful mitzva to help
our brethren, please make out a check to Central Fund of Israel
and mail it to us at 1462 Lively Ridge Road, Atlanta, GA 30329.
Please mark "Gush Katif" as well as "In memory of Saul Uri Harris
Z"L" in the memo. Saul Harris was the son of Avery Harris who
passed away a number of years ago, and Avery Harris does a
tremendous amount of work on behalf of the needy in his son's
memory. As you can see from the articles below and the attachment,
the need is still unfortunately very great. Tizku lemitzvos.
This is a video called
"Shlomi Basham's Gush Katif Farewell":
available at Broadcast Ourself
http://www.wejew.com/media/1203/Gush_Katif_Farewell_Video/. Or click here. Shlomi Basham is a Gush Katifer who is fed up. After two years, he's quitting.
"A Farewell Letter to a Beloved Land" –– Gush Katif expellee, Shlomi Bashan, writes songs to cope with the eviction. After two years of soul-shaking storms and wanderings in Israel, 27-year-old Gush Katif expellee Shlomi Bashan has committed his thoughts and feelings on paper and released a new book: I'm Going: Farewell to a Beloved Land. On August 15th, 2005, eight thousand residents were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif, an area which lies within the Gaza strip along Israel's southern Mediterranean coast. The evacuated land was given to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of the 2005 Disengagement Plan.
Bashan, along with his fellow Gush Katif refugees, were promised new homes, employment, and agricultural fields. In fact, they were abandoned to temporary living quarters, with no place to call their own. 'I need a home.'; Bashan comments in his Arutz Sheva interview. He finds no consolation in the pre-fab home neighborhoods the government has created for the Gush Katif families. Bashan expresses his displeasure. "I never fit into Nitzan [a neighborhood of temporary pre-fab houses for Gush Katif evacuees]. I visited my parents there several times, but it's not my home'; I see it as a concentration camp. They are waiting for them [the evacuees] to die there, and it is working. They are dying."
Bashan does not believe Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is taking proper care of the situation. This view, shared by many others, has merited him a place on the list of potential assassin suspects for Olmert. Shlomi was called in for interrogation by the police. Shlomi was interviewed by Arutz Sheva TV talking about his book. (www.israelnationaltv.com)
This is an item called "Farmers and the frost"
(http://www.katifund.org/English/Article.aspx?Item=173, and upload tu.bishvat pdf file) about some of the ex-farmers who've restarted farming south of Ashkelon. It's not a fairy tale ending –– the farmers are prone to the usual weather hazards. But they are a hardy lot. It's from Friends of Gush Katif. (P.O.B. 1184, Teaneck, NJ 07666. Toll free number in the US: 1-800-410-1502. Email: email@example.com)
Several farmers formerly from Gush Katif are among the many farmers whose crops have been damaged by the severe frost which has struck the country. Those farmers decided to restore their farms despite the low compensation monies and despite the lack of suitable infrastructures in order to continue the work of the land.
For the Gush Katif farmers it's a tremendous loss, when the wounds of the uprooting aren't healed yet, it is another strike which leaves them once again workless and hurt. Most of the losses were at the Ziqim farm, south of Ashkelon when the 'handwriting was on the wall': the land of Kibutz Ziqim which was allocated by the government is prone to frost and the infrastructures of the area were not properly prepared and lacked the most basic draining system and the electrical infrastructures to provide heating to all of the crops simultaneously.
The Ministry of Agriculture evaluated the overall damage to tens of
millions of shekels and will seriously impede the export to European
countries. The amazing part of the story is that this week, in the
course of a routine visit, I saw these farmers replanting again and
trying again to restore their livelihood. (The planting during the
Shmita Year was approved by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in this
Besides people, what's happened to the innovative
greenhouses engineered by the GushKatifers to grow remarkable and
highly marketable organic vegetables in a seemingly unsuitable
environment? Where are they now? This article is entitled "Have the
GK greenhouses bolstered the PA economy?" and it is from the
GushKatif website; it is archived at
http://www.katifund.org/English/Article.aspx?Item=196. It is from "Myths & Facts Online –– A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict" by Mitchell G. Bard.
MYTH :"Gaza settlers' greenhouses have bolstered the PA economy."
On the eve of Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, Middle East envoy James Wolfensohn brokered a deal to purchase greenhouses built by Jewish settlers in the hope of providing employment and export income to the Palestinian people and boost the fledgling economy. Wolfensohn and a number of other donors, including several American Jews, bought the greenhouses, which averaged more than $75 million in total crop output annually, and gave them to the Palestinian Authority.
Wolfensohn and a number of other donors, including several American Jews, bought the greenhouses, which averaged more than $75 million in total crop output annually, and gave them to the Palestinian Authority.
Almost immediately after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, many greenhouses were ransacked and looted. In September 2005, looters in Neve Dekalim, the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza, walked away with irrigation hoses, water pumps, and plastic sheeting, often while Palestinian policemen watched.
Despite pleas from the Palestinian Prime Minister to leave the structures intact, the security situation around the greenhouses worsened. In 2006, roving gunmen destroyed greenhouses in the former settlement of Morag, and dozens of armed militiamen ransacked more than 50 acres of greenhouse space in the former settlement of Gush Katif.157 Witnesses said the militants used bulldozers to demolish the buildings' frames, and then destroyed or stole whatever equipment they could find inside, including irrigation computers.
The Palestinian Company for Economic Development, the organization in charge of running the greenhouses, complained that hundreds of greenhouses and other agricultural installations were destroyed. In an appeal to the Palestinian Authority leadership, the company said, "These greenhouses and other installations and projects provide a source of income for over 4,500 families. We are very disturbed by the recurring attacks and thefts. Such actions jeopardize the largest agricultural project carried by the Palestinian Authority after the Israeli withdrawal."
In addition to rendering the greenhouses useless for their intended purpose of building up the PA economy, Hamas has also established terrorist training centers on some of the lands of the evacuated settlements. Abu Abdullah, a senior member of Hamas' military wing, said the two former settlements of Eli Sinai and Dagit are now advanced training zones.
Nearly 70% of the greenhouses have been completely destroyed, most recently by Palestinians who dismantled some of the remaining greenhouses to sell to Egyptians after the Gaza-Egypt border was breached in January 2008. The treatment of the greenhouses is an example of how, contrary to Palestinian propaganda blaming Israel, the economic troubles in the Gaza Strip are largely self-inflicted.
155. Jonathan Pearlman, "Fruitless Enterprise," The Jerusalem Report, (August 7, 2006).
156. Lara Sukhtian, "Palestinians loot greenhouses; Pumps, hoses taken; Abbas appeals for order," The Boston Globe, (September 14, 2005).
157Khaled Abu Toameh, "Gaza: Gunmen raze Morag hothouses," Jerusalem Post, (May 14, 2006).
158. Arnon Regular, "Palestinian militants ransack former Gush Katif greenhouses," Ha'aretz, (October 2, 2006).
159. Khaled Abu Toameh, "Gaza: Gunmen raze Morag hothouses," Jerusalem Post, (May 14, 2006).
160. Aaron Klein, "Ex-Jewish cities now for Hamas terror training," World Net Daily, (March 20, 2007).
161. Will Rasmussen, "Gaza's greenhouses become hot property in Egypt," Reuters, (January 31, 2008).
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