"There was a headline on the Internet the other day, 'Kassams being fired from Neveh Dekalim.' It really hurt me to see that sentence," says Rina Akerman from her hotel room in the Shalom Hotel in Jerusalem.
Like all of the evacuees with whom The Jerusalem Post spoke recently, Akerman expresses surprise that Israel's political and military analysts hadn't forecast Hamas's landslide election victory. She adds that while the violent use of her former neighborhood and the Hamas win did not surprise her, they still cause her deep distress.
"It is painful to close your eyes and remember our community center and the synagogue and think of Hamas inside now, planning terrorist attacks against us... but we didn't expect anything better... It would not have made a difference even if they had turned Neveh Dekalim into a university campus as the PA claimed to intend... Many of the suicide bombers were educated in their universities, they are also breeding grounds for terrorism, so it would merely be a difference in semantics."
Asked if she feels vindicated, Akerman responds, "When [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon suffered his stroke, a reporter asked me if I believed that now we would return to Gush Katif. I answered that we will not return to our homes because of any changes in Israel, but rather because our 'neighbors' will create such havoc and chaos that Israeli troops will be forced to go back.
"We have cried for so long that this is what will happen. We so much didn't want to reach the point of saying, 'I told you so,' but that is what we have come to. I just don't understand why the politicians and the IDF are so shocked. The disengagement gave power to Islamic fundamentalists the world over - look at what happened in France... What did they think, that here the Arabs would be sweet and loving?
"When the water level fell below the red line in the Lake Kinneret a few years ago," Akerman adds, "instead of taking water conservation seriously, Israel simply lowered the height of the red line. Now I worry that they'll decide Hamas is our partner and try to talk with them instead of accepting the new reality and rethinking our position."
"We all knew it was coming," Ella Hoffman concurs, "it is stupidity to think that Hamas wasn't going to win after all the appeasement of their terrorism... at least they are open about it. Let's see if the government can whitewash Hamas enough to be palatable for the whole world - I'm sure they'll technically find a way to talk to them."
Hoffman was speaking by phone from a medical clinic. In contrast to her usual upbeat attitude, the Nefesh B'Nefesh immigrant - who married long-time Gush Katif resident David Hoffman last year - sounded worn out and depressed. Hoffman said she had just finished a 24-hour stint of being monitored for heart problems and was being sent for more extensive tests.
"My blood pressure is up... I was never sick before, but living in hotels for six months is no vacation... I'm tired of the whole thing. I just want the government to give me my compensation so I can get out of here."
According to Hoffman, she is just one of many evacuees who have suffered heart problems since the disengagement.
"My friend just had a heart procedure and a neighbor from Neveh Dekalim had a triple bypass a couple of weeks after the expulsion. Then he had complications that meant they had to remove the front of his foot. He's still in the hospital."
But Hoffman expects to remain in the hotel for some months before she is able to move into a small mobile home in Amatzya in the Lachish region.
In a visit there this week, Hoffman was distressed by how small the 60-sq.m. caravans are, placed just five meters apart from one another. Only about half of the 60 caravans are on site and they are far from finished - lacking roofs and utilities - even though, Hoffman reminds, "The government said we'll all be out of the hotels by January."
Construction of the Ein Tzurim site is even further behind. With this in mind, the Akermans, who hope to move there, are among a number of families who have paid to have a private telephone line installed in their hotel room. "We did it mostly for Internet access - how long can you live in limbo like this?" asks Akerman rhetorically.
Rabbi Yigal Kirshenzaft, who ran the Chabad House in Neveh Dekalim, hopes to move to Nitzan but refuses to run after all the paperwork demanded by the Disengagement Authority and has therefore not received any compensation. He was not at all shocked by Hamas's election victory.
"It was clear all along that the disengagement would strengthen terrorism and sadly that has been fulfilled. Whoever claims to have been taken by surprise is either na ve or lying."
Kirshenzaft speaks contemptuously of the government's wavering over whether to delay passing collected taxes to the PA: "The US has declared that it will not fund a Hamas-lead PA, but our government is giving them water, electricity, oil, food and money - the State of Israel is now officially supporting a terrorist regime!"
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