netanyahu with kids 248.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday promised Gaza evacuees that, within a year, they would have permanent housing solutions, as he visited two southern communities where some plan to resettle - Shomriya and Amatziya.
"We want to bring this [transition] to an end," he said. "This means in months, certainly within the year."
Netanyahu spoke in Shomriya almost four years to the day since close to 8,500 people were pulled from their homes in 21 Gaza settlements and four northern Samaria ones.
"We want solutions for everyone, but solutions that will happen now. The people here, especially the children, should know: 'This is my house, this is my future, this is my place.' It is this which calms the soul and returns things to their natural order," said the prime minister at the dedication ceremony for a new Orthodox elementary school for evacuee children.
During the disengagement, evacuees were promised that there was a solution for every family, and that the transition period would last two years.
Four years later, only 40 percent are close to having permanent homes.
One former Gazan said that even as he listened to Netanyahu on Monday, he understood it was unlikely it would take only a year to build everyone a home. He said he hoped the prime minister would at least cut through the endless bureaucracy.
It was a sentiment echoed by Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi), who is charged with helping the evacuees.
"People won't finish building in a year," said Herschkowitz. But Netanyahu's visit and the support he has promised was very important, he told The Jerusalem Post.
In Shomriya, Netanyahu said that aside from the government offices and ministers who would help smooth the process, he promised to deal with it personally.
He added that his visit earlier in the day with Gaza evacuee David Hatuel, who lost his wife, Tali, and four daughters in a terrorist attack in May 2004, "brought tears to my eyes."
Netanyahu said he was inspired by the way Hatuel had remarried, had children, and started a new life.
"We can't deny that mistakes happened during disengagement, and to our sorrow we see that what we got [by leaving Gaza] was an Iranian base. We received neither peace nor security," the prime minister said.
"Instead we have suffered thousands of missiles, from Magen Yavne to Beersheba, not to mention Ashkelon, Ashdod and of course Sderot."
"We refuse to accept missiles launched against our communities, there is nothing natural in this," said Netanyahu.
"We won't accept, not a rain drop, not a drizzle, not a shower of missiles," he said.
"There will be a response for every missile. Yesterday there was a missile attack and already at night there was a response. Our enemies should know that this is our policy. This should be clear to everyone."
His remarks came hours after IAF planes bombed a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Sinai border.
He used the platform at the school to speak against unilateral moves in the diplomatic process, such as disengagement.
"Unilateral steps without an agreement and security arrangements only worsen the situation. We are looking for peace, real peace where the other side recognizes our right to this land, our history in this land and the right of the Jewish nation to a state of its own," the prime minister said.
He described how on his way to Shomriya, as he passed the archeological site of Tel Lachish, which was once a town conquered by Joshua, he stopped his convoy and climbed to the top of the Tel.
"I have been in the area many times, but I can't remember having gone onto the Tel, at least not in the light of day."
It made him wonder if the children in Shomriya and the area had visited the site.
"This is our land. Climb onto the Tel," said Netanyahu. "We have no future without a past."
Other nations have come and gone from this area, including the Assyrians and the Babylonians, "but we are still here. This is not a strange land that we have conquered, it is our land," and the children have to learn their connection to the land, he said.
He added that he wanted to see the region continue to grow. There are some 100 families here today, but "on my next visit, I want there to be 400."
Earlier in the visit, when talking with reporters, Netanyahu reiterated a warning to Beirut, saying that if Hizbullah became an official member of Lebanon's next government, "we will hold the government accountable for any aggression against Israel coming out of its territory."
"The sovereign government of Lebanon would be responsible" for any violent act committed against Israel, he said. "I hope we don't come to that."
However, Netanyahu said current tensions between Israel and Hizbullah were not likely to spill over into violence.