Saturday, October 7, 2006

Nebich, Big Deal!

I just wonder. Did the New York Times publish an essay by a Jew expelled from his home and business in Gush Katif? Read this by an Arab whose tourist visa to Israel won't be renewed. Nebich, maybe he is a "good Arab," but the Jews in Gush Katif and Northern Shomron lost much more. Their homes and businesses were destroyed, in the name of Disengagement.

This is the second Succot that the Tzaig family and 1,676 other evicted families have celebrated since disengagement. Like the Tzaigs, the vast majority of families removed from Gush Katif have not received permanent housing.

13 Months Later: No Progress on Permanent Gush Katif Homes

19:47 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.


lilfeathers2000 said...

I won't pretend that I understand the politics of Israel.
Nor will I pretend I can understand making good citizens give up their homes.
I can say I pray for Israel to prosper and be blessed.

Batya said...

Thanks for your prayers.