Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gaza Expulsion 4 Years Later: Families Can't Afford Houses

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

The central ceremony marking the 4th anniversary of the expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Shomron is being held Tuesday evening, near the former main entrance to Gaza. Thousands of people, including many who never lived in any of the 25 destroyed Jewish communities, are expected to be in attendance.

Four years after the Disengagement/expulsion, nearly all of the deported families still do not have permanent housing. Just this very week, groundbreaking began for one of the new towns to be built for the expellees – Mirsham (Neta), between Kiryat Gat and southern Judea.

Similar earthmoving works began in recent months for the expellees from two or three other communities, while hundreds of other displaced residents are not even at that stage. Instead, they continue to live in the hated pre-fab homes known as “caravillas” –2-3 times smaller than the homes some of them built in Gush Katif.

40 Families: We Can No Longer Afford to Build

Ironically, some 40 families say they will not be able afford to move out of the caravillas when the time comes. They have asked to buy the structures from the government and have them moved to the site of their future homes.

The reason for their seemingly strange request is that the compensation money the government gave them has run out, and they now have no money to build a new home. The money was to have been used to fund the construction of their new homes, but unemployment and other expulsion-related expenses, as well as the protracted bureaucracy and uncertainty as to their future housing options led to the gradual erosion of the funds.

The families who have made this request belong to the Bnei Menashe community of Jews who made Aliyah from India some 20 years ago, and moved into N’vei Dekalim, Gush Katif’s largest town.

The caravillas, which were built to last for only ten years, were to have been used for government offices after the expellees moved out. Their cost is estimated at 200,000 shekels each, compared to the estimated three times that amount to build a new home.

“It’s not like we like these caravillas,” said one member of the community, “but just that our money has run out and we simply have no other choice.” The Disengagement Authority says it is looking into the matter.

About the Anniversary Ceremony

Tuesday's anniversary ceremony is not meant only for the expellees, says Rabbi Kobi Borenstein, of the Gush Katif Residents Committee. “We were emissaries and representatives of the entire country,” he told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine, “and the event is for everyone. Similarly, the responsibility to return to Gush Katif lies upon everyone – and especially during this period, when we see a spirit of weakness and blindness enveloping our political leadership. We must restore the spirit and values on which we were raised in this land.”

Rabbi Borenstein said that the site of the former entrance to Gush Katif is named Kisufim, after the nearby kibbutz with that name: “It is a fitting name, because it means ‘longing.’ We continue to long for every part of the Land of Israel. A flag will be raised at the event, symbolizing our dream for this site to become once again a passageway - and not a dead end.”

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