Background: Kfar Darom evacuees refuse housing

Former Gaza settlers claim they are 'not used to living in apartments.'

settlers in ashkelon 298 (photo credit: )
settlers in ashkelon 298
(photo credit: )
One hundred days after Israel began its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the majority of settlers evicted from settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank have found either temporary or permanent housing, according to government and settler data. Some 1,460 of 1,800 families evacuated from the settlements in August have purchased homes, rented apartments or found other accommodations. Families, big and small, have fanned out across Israel from the Golan Heights in the north to the Negev in the south. The large cluster of several evicted communities, envisioned in Israeli proper either for the Nitzanim area between Ashdod or Ashkelon, or in the Western Negev failed to materialize with settlers dispersed among nearly 30 different Israeli cities and villages, according to data collated by the Committee of Gush Katif Communities, a branch of the Yesha Council. Of the 334 families still in hotels, guesthouses or "vacation villages" more than a third are due to move into so-called "caravillas," or super-sized trailer-homes in the Nitzan area, according to Haim Altman, spokesman for the Disengagement Authority, also known by its Hebrew acronym, SELA. All but 200 evicted families have concluded or are in the midst of negotiations with the government over their compensation, said Altman. While Altman proudly read one settler's glowing letter of thanks to SELA, many settler groups continue to complain of the government's treatment. Asher Mivtzari, spokesman for some 60 Kfar Darom families said his group rejected a NIS 10 million housing complex provided them by the government in Ashkelon. "The apartments the government has promised are not ready, so talk of relocation is irrelevant," said Mivtzari. According to their agreement with the government, the final touches would be put on the apartments as soon as Kfar Darom settlers agreed to move there. During the weekend, representatives of the Kfar Darom settlers announced that they refused to move to the complex, announcing that they are not accustomed to living in multi-story buildings and that they should be relocated to houses. Mivtzari alleged that the "government isn't living up to its promises." The sixty families evacuated on a steamy day in August remain "refugees in the Paradise Hotel," in Beer Sheva, noted Mivtzari wryly. Settlers' representatives and government representatives are to meet Sunday night to hammer out an agreement to accommodate the settlers. According to the Government Employment Service, 1,990 of Gush Katif's former residents - 75 percent of the income-earners - are unemployed to date. Yet most Gush Katif settlers, some 1,300 of 1,600 that applied for compensation, have received cash advances to help them through the transition phase. Some 800 have received either 75% or 100% of their compensation, while 515 others received cash infusions of about NIS 50,000. In another attempt to find a housing solution for Gaza evacuees, the Ministerial Disengagement Committee on Wednesday approved the construction of 65 temporary housing units in Moshav Amatzya in the Lachish region to house evacuees from Katif and Neveh Dekalim, formerly of Gush Katif. Altman says that construction is going apace in several other locations as well, and that SELA is near brokering a deal for evicted settlers in Kibbutz Shomriya in Israel's south. The committee allocated NIS 26 million for the temporary housing, with the plan being for the temporary homes to be replaced by permanent ones. "There is no doubt that settling the southern region is of critical importance, and steps like these contribute much to the development of the region," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at the meeting.