evacuees in hotel 248 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy [file])
Yochai Dahan, director of logistics at Lemaan Acheinu - Committee for Gush Katif Communities, will be moving into his caravilla in Amatzya on Monday, despite the incomplete infrastructure there. He doesn't intend to spend the Pessah holiday there, just drop off his belongings. Like other evacuees living in Jerusalem hotels, Dahan received a letter from the Disengagement Authority ordering him to vacate by Monday 11 a.m.
Dahan considers himself fortunate, reeling off the names of many families who have received eviction letters but whose new homes are not ready, for example Tammy and Chaim Elkaslasi and their six children - two young adults, three teenagers and an 11-year-old.
After living in Neveh Dekalim for 24 years, the Elkaslasis were promised a 110-square meter caravilla in Amatzya. A few weeks ago they were shocked to discover they had been allocated a 75-square meter caravan, entirely inappropriate for a family of their size. Later they were told they would receive a 35-meter extension, comprising two rooms and a shower.
When they visited Amatzya last week to make final arrangements for their move, the Elkaslasis were dismayed to discover that they had not received the extra space, because the cabinet had not yet approved the funding for such extensions. It was only on Sunday that the cabinet finally approved the spending, leaving no time to build the extensions before Pessah.
The Elkaslasis are demanding that they be allowed to remain in their hotel until their new home made appropriate for a family of their size. Disengagement Authority spokesman Haim Altman said the family was offered the use of a second caravilla for the "short space of time" until the extension was built and that therefore the Elkaslasis had no reason to stay in the hotel.
Tammy Elkaslasis reacted furiously to Altman's statement. "I want a normal life already! I am hurt and angry that after waiting for eight months in the hotel, where it was impossible to maintain a normal family life, they are trying to force us into another abnormal situation where we are separated from one another.
"They won't allow us to connect the two homes with a corridor and I am not prepared to enter a situation where I have to scream from one house to another for my children to hear me. This is not how we should have been treated after all this time. I won't forgive this and I won't forget!" she said.
In the same Jerusalem hotel, Eli Akerman, father of 13, has been confined to bed since he injured his back last week while packing for his family's move to Amatzya. Akerman has been receiving injections of painkillers and medication for an infection in his spine. His wife Rina quips that they will need movers to take him out of the hotel on Monday, since he can't even get out of bed without two helpers. She said a group of soldiers from the Nahal haredi were due to help the family move since, with her husband out of commission, she couldn't possibly manage by herself.
Like the Elkaslasis, the Akermans were expecting a two-room extension to their caravilla that was delayed pending cabinet approval. Until it was built, said Rina Akerman, they would be unable to unpack.
Akerman expressed anger at the Disengagement Authority's insistence that the evacuees leave the hotels before Pessah. "Again the government set a 'holy' date, just like with the expulsion. It doesn't matter that it is Erev Pessah and the preparations are not still complete, it doesn't matter that some families have nowhere to go, the only thing that is important to the government is that we are out by 11 o'clock Monday morning. It is the same mindset that created this mess."
Akerman said, "Since our caravan will not be inhabitable, we will be returning tomorrow to the same family that took us in on that first night we were thrown out of our home last summer, and we will stay with them for the whole of Pessah. But afterwards the children need to start their new educational frameworks in Amatzya, so I hope that they will build the extension quickly."
Ella and David Hoffman's caravilla in Shekef is ready to move into, but that hasn't eliminated their stress. On Thursday, David repaired the leaky pipes; he was relieved to discover that a new electrical generator had been brought in to replace the one that had broken down the previous day.
The Hoffmans had waited to order a shipping container until there was an appropriate place for it. They faxed their request on Friday morning, but the fax was only received on Sunday. The Hoffmans were assured they would receive their container on Monday, the same day they were to leave their hotel.
Ella said, "We are all under a lot of stress now. Because of the tight deadline that the government has created, we are completely dependent on the container arriving tomorrow and with its contents intact - some people have opened their containers and discovered that their furniture and appliances had been damaged by mice - otherwise we will have no beds to sleep on... no refrigerator to store food. How am I supposed to prepare for Pessah in these conditions? The government has again demonstrated that it simply doesn't care."
Altman said, "We consulted community representatives when setting the dates this week by which the families have to leave their hotels. They were all supposed to leave before Shabbat but we allowed those with special reasons to remain for another few days. There are fewer than 30 families whose [new] homes are not ready and they will be remaining in their hotels."