Hotel to evict Gush Katif families

Decision due to contractual problem between the gov't, hotel management.

ashkelon ad 298 Municipa (photo credit: )
ashkelon ad 298 Municipa
(photo credit: )
The management of Shirat Ha-Yam Hotel in Ashkelon plans this coming Sunday to evict 30 Gaza families who have been living there since the government evacuated them from their homes in mid-August. Disengagement Authority spokesman Haim Altman said the families would be moved to another hotel in Ashkelon. The eviction is due to a contractual problem between the government and the hotel management, Altman said, adding that the government is still committed to providing the families with a roof over their heads for the rest of the month. But he warned that government contracts with the 12 hotels that house some 607 evacuee families in a number of cities including Jerusalem expires at the end of the month and will only be renewed for those families who are waiting for government housing options, such as modular homes. The rest of the families will have to find their own solutions such as rental homes or apartments, he said. He could not say how many families that included. The government’s decision not to renew the contract with the Ashkelon hotel followed ten tense days in which Gaza settlers did not know if they were staying or going. They were given conflicting reports and notices. On Friday, in frustration with the government, the hotel shut off electricity and water in the rooms for a few hours, but then switched it back on. Hotel manager Asher Tabacman told The Jerusalem Post that its contract with the government expired on September 29 and has yet to be renewed. There is a verbal agreement to allow the families to stay until Sunday, Tabacman said. Altman said the government failed to renew the contract because the hotel had asked it to rent all 130 of its rooms for a month, when only some 80 rooms are actually in use. Tabacman said that the hotel had been closed for the last five years and had been reopened on August 15 for the sole purpose of providing a temporary home for the evacuees. “Once they leave, the hotel will close again,” he said. As a result, without a month commitment for the whole building, it can’t afford to stay open, he said. If the hotel was willing to be in business when it was only half full, it would not have closed its doors in the first place, Tabacman said. In the hotel lobby on Monday, evacuees met with Disengagement Authority representatives to explore their options. A few settlers said they were resigned to the fact that they might have to move again. “We don’t have a choice,” said Miriam Dudan of Morag. She is part of a group of some 20 families that are waiting for the government to finalize plans for them to move to a small dying moshav. Tzur Ganish of Elei Sinai said he isn’t looking to the government to find him a solution he is simply waiting for a visa to head to the United States for at least a year. If it doesn’t come in the next few weeks, he said, he would join the small group of Elei Sinai families who have pitched tents at the Yad Mordechai intersection. Others were less resigned. One settler who did not want to be named said he had no intention of moving until he had a solution for his family. “I will resist with force if I have to,” he said, adding that he will not make it as easy for the government to evict him as he did the first time around.