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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

No surprise!

This is too important to ignore, so I'm doing something I rarely do. Here's the latest update on the Disengagement victims, the refugees from Gush Katif:

13 Months Later: No Progress on Permanent Gush Katif Homes

20:47 Sep 26, '06 / 4 Tishrei 5767
by Hillel Fendel

Former Gush Katif leaders warn: At this rate, thousands of people will be forced to spend between 5 and 7 years in the tiny temporary homes in their various refugee camps.

The damage caused by the Disengagement - the unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif and northern Shomron, in which nearly 10,000 Jews were displaced from their homes - is still being felt. Despite being nearly totally forgotten by the media, the residents continue to live in small temporary homes in transient communities, with no word on when they will be able to resume their lives in permanent locations.

Not one house has yet been built in their planned permanent neighborhoods - despite the government's publicity campaign boasting a "solution for every settler." Nearly two dozen leaders of the destroyed communities gathered for an emergency meeting last week, attempting to find a solution for the government's inaction on the matter.

The leaders demand that the government declare it a "national mission" to build the permanent towns and utilize emergency regulations for this purpose. "Just as the government had a deadline by which the families had to leave Gush Katif," the residents say, "there must be a firm timetable for the building of the different permanent communities."

Dror Vanunu is the head of the Gush Katif Development Fund and a former resident of Gush Katif's largest town, N'vei Dekalim; construction on his house was completed just months before the expulsion. Vanunu writes,
"The plan to expel the settlers from Gush Katif was announced by [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon in December of 2003 - 21 months before it was carried out. During this period, though there was comprehensive and professional planning for the expulsion of thousands of Jews from their homes, the 'day after' was almost completely ignored."

"They knew very well how to throw us out," another woman summed up, "but had little concern for what would happen to us afterwards."

The government's policy at first was to compensate the residents financially, and have them worry about their future living quarters on their own. This policy was in direct contradiction of the recommendation of the Legal Forum of the Land of Israel for the retention of the community structures that had been built up over they years. This recommendation was based largely on the lessons learned from the evacuation of Yamit in 1982. Only three months before the actual expulsion did the government begin to take action on building a new temporary community in Nitzan, with the verbal reassurance that permanent communities would be planned "afterwards."

A report issued by the State Comptroller six months ago found that "The State and its institutions failed in their treatment of the expelled citizens of Gush Katif... One thing dragged along another, and things got stuck. Everyone worked with the approach of 'Trust me, it will be OK' - until it was too late... The Prime Minister and Finance Minister [Binyamin Netanyahu] did not steer their workers properly. The relevant ministers should have used all their influence to push things forward..."

"At the present time," writes Vanunu in a summation report released to the press, "the various communities of Gush Katif are all suffering from various stages of stagnation as regards to permanent housing. While each one of the villages and groups knows exactly where they are planning to settle, they are all suffering from pointless administrative delays. Some of the planned areas still are only in the initial planning stages. For some, the Government Planning Committee has given its approval, and in some areas there are significant delays due to governmental foot-dragging... If there will not be an immediate change in the attitude of the government toward this problem, thousands of people will be forced to spend between 5-7 years in the tiny caravillas in the different refugee camps."

The Residents Committee demands that the usual governmental procedure for building towns - which involves several stages involving different ministries and bodies - be accelerated, via the use of emergency orders if necessary, so that the families can end their in-limbo state and move into their permanent homes as quickly as possible.

Some 16 different future communities are stuck because of various delays. Some examples:

Kibbutz Mavki'im - 21 families from Pe'at Sadeh (southern Gush Katif) are waiting for construction on infrastructure to begin, despite the fact that the urban plan has been approved - and despite the fact that they signed an agreement with the State of Israel a full half-year before the expulsion.

Nitzanim - the showcase plan of the Sela [Aid to the Expellees] Administration in which hundreds of housing units were to be built, according to plans signed before the expulsion, for residents of several different agricultural settlements. In spite of promises by the Sela Administration that families that signed up for this project would be able to rebuild their homes quickly, preparation of the infrastructure has not begun because of "government foot-dragging" and legal procedures undertaken by the City of Ashkelon at the High Court of Justice.

The "Golf" Neighborhood of Ashkelon - 150 families from northern Gush Katif signed up for this project before the expulsion. In spite of government promises that work would begin immediately, the State has yet to complete the purchase of the land from the original owners.

Nitzan - 350 families, mostly from N'vei Dekalim, have signed up for this project. Considered to be at the most advanced stage of all of the various projects, the infrastructure is expected to be ready in December 2006. However, many unresolved issues are still outstanding, and the final agreement with the government has not yet been signed. The issues, as in other places, include disagreement over community buildings, solutions for second-generation residents, "non-eligible" residents, building assessments and so forth.

Egoz and Mirsham - Fifty families from N'vei Dekalim and additional families from all over the country want to move to Egoz, in the eastern Lachish region - south of Judea and east of Kiryat Gat. Forty families want to move to nearby Mirsham. Urban plans for the two do not even exist. For years now the government has been searching for pioneers willing to settle here and make the barren hills bloom.

Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim - A neighborhood adjoining the kibbutz is supposed to be built for 80 families of Ganei Tal. However, no work has begun in the area for the infrastructure.

Yesodot - intended for some 50 families from Netzer Hazani, but no agreement has been signed and the urban plan is only in the early stages of planning.


Anonymous said...

It is fair to say that they lost because they actually trusted the government and the 'orange' leaders, even after what they went through.

Since Yonatan Basi quit and a new head to Sela grew, they get chocolate bars thrown to them as opposed to the peanuts beforehand.

I think that of all the 'public figures' who made predictions, Barry Chamish was pretty much right on about what would happen to the GK refugees.

After being in Kfar Maimom and seeing how the leadership was merely waging the protest war to let off steam instead of actually trying to win it, he wrote that the only hope was if the GK residents would put up a fight. Even after the expulsion and until today, he still claimed that they must get 'militant' (my description) by actively protesting as opposed to the passive apathy of hopelessness that they fell into and the 'orange' leaders and members of parliament did little to alleviate.

I don't recall anyone else publicly voicing this attitude.

IMO, it goes down to this: unfortunately, we (GKs and us) all care more about ourselves, our jobs, and our money than the big picture.

I know why the masses didn't show up to block the roads a year ago:
a) since we saw that the GKs were going down with no resistance, why did we feel to put ourselves on the line for them?
b) the vast majority of our 'orange' leaders are subscribers (readers) to the mass media and internalized (the brainwashing) early on that the expulsion was inevitable, so that they really never put up a real fight or went on the line to call for something drastic. They thought that above all they must not tarnish the image of the settler in the eyes of the mass media. So the mass media won. The settler leaders merely endangered their own homes in Judea/Samaria even more by sacrificing Gush Katif.

Only Aryeh Eldad put his body where his mouth was and walked from Sanur to GK. The other orange leaders stayed away of the 'old man' so I don't even think more than a dozen people joined the march at one time. Sure it was just 'another lite-protest', but it could have evolved if more had shown up. In any case, sweating is harder than sitting in the office.

In the end, we know that the soft spot to our little country and its government is blocking roads. I think that they sentenced someone to 2.5 years for 'planning' to block a road with a burning car. We saw how regular Israelis were pissed when some roads were blocked and how it was 'damaging' the cause, but what it comes down to is this; if the histadrut could do it numerous times, and everyone hates them, then who cares? - they get what they fight for.

I wonder if it's already to late for the GK refugees. A year ago, they were all unemployed and ripe for resistance, now I assume that most are trying to get along with 'life' so much more harder to sacrifice for real protests.

I was never skeptical about the previously promised 2-3 year estimate to get into permanent homes. From the beginning, it was blatantly obvious that they were getting merely thrown out of there homes either forever, or until they break up and dissipate. Many believed the government wish to send them further away from Gush Dan to settle the negev and Egyptian border. Unfortunately, very few decided to go against the grain and settle in Judea and Samaria. Otherwise, they shoud have all moved to Gush Dan. I wonder if it's too late to change their plans.

Batya said...

Very true.
I predicted it, but I'm just a blogger.
Human nature. The GK crowd are just gentle people, not fighters. That's why they've been so easy to push around.