G. Katif families battle eviction order

Hotel says it won't serve them meals; families ask people to bring food.

neve dekalim scuffle 298 (photo credit: )
neve dekalim scuffle 298
(photo credit: )
Nearly three months after Neveh Dekalim was forcefully evacuated, nearly 100 families from that settlement are fighting for their homes once again - in the Regency Hyatt hotel in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday morning the families received a letter from the hotel asking that they leave within the next 24 hours. But a spokesman for the families said they have no intention to leave and government officials will have to forcefully remove them, as they did in Neveh Dekalim, if they want them to leave.

"They told us that we would not be able to get into rooms or eat in the dining hall," said Rabbi Yosef Rimon, a spokesman for the families. "But we definitely don't plan to leave. We will leave only with the police."

During the day the families milled around the hotel, the atmosphere was tense and people were worried, they said, but nobody was going to give in and pack.

Instead, the families explained that they are planning a protest in the hotel on Thursday along with evacuee families from other communities. The hotel has announced it will stop serving them meals as of Thursday morning, and the families are asking that people bring food to the hotel.

"How many times can they move us?" said one woman who asked not to be named. "We are not their cattle, we can't continue to be treated this way."

Earlier this month, the Disengagement Authority (SELA) informed the settlers that they would have to leave the hotel by the end of October. Rimon, however, said that many of the families had appealed the move and others had never received letters from SELA.

"Having them stay there until the end of the month was a general time frame," said Haim Altman, a spokesman from SELA. "SELA is not in the business of forcibly removing people, we will come to an agreement."

Altman added that the decision to end the hotel contract came from the hotel itself. The manager of the hotel refused to comment on the situation, Rimon however, said he had spoken to hotel management who said that the decision to end the contract came because of bad business communication between SELA and the hotel.

"We are trying to negotiate with the hotel to let them stay," said Altman. "And we are looking into other options for the families as well."

The families are not as optimistic and said they knew what those other options were - namely staying in hotels in the Ashkelon area- and they were not interested.

"SELA really wants to move people to Ashkelon, where it is much cheaper for them to put us in hotels," said Rimon. "But they should have done that ahead of time, not now. We have finally settled down, arranged schools for the kids, set up kindergartens in the hotel. You can't play with people like this."

The families are individually negotiating with SELA for permanent housing solutions, said Rimon. The majority had already reached deals and were waiting for caravans to be built, he added, but the earliest they would be able to move to those homes would be in two months.

"We have had to leave our homes once and come here. From here we will go to caravans until the permanent homes are ready. How many times can you relocate children, change their classes, and still ask them to function?" Rimon said.

Also on Wednesday, Netzarim evacuees were expected to leave the Judea and Samaria College in Ariel. The college hosted the evacuated families since disengagement in August, but now needs the dorms for the beginning of the academic year.

Most of the residents had already moved to other settlements in the Negev and have announced that they will create a new settlement in the Halutza area.

The approximately 20 families who chose to remain in Ariel were being moved to temporary housing in the high school yeshiva at Karnei Shomron until permanent housing could be found.

Meanwhile, most of the Ganei Tal evacuees, who had been living in the vacation apartments in Kibbutz Hafetz Haim since the pullout, were expected to receive the keys to approximately 100 caravans in the Yad Binyamin settlement on Wednesday.