Karmiya families to move yet again

Hof Ashkelon to host settlers, temporarily housed in Karmiya since Gaza pullout.

karmiya resettled 298.88 (photo credit: Rafael D. Frenkel [file])
karmiya resettled 298.88
(photo credit: Rafael D. Frenkel [file])
Families from Kibbutz Karmiya who moved en masse to Ashkelon on Saturday and spent the night in the cafeteria of the soldiers' club there will be provided temporary quarters at the Hof Ashkelon training center for the next few days, Disengagement Authority (Sela) spokesman Haim Altman said. The temporary housing is part of a compromise brokered between Sela chief Yonatan Bassi and leaders of the Gaza evacuees who have lived in caravans at Karmiya for the last two months. The families left the kibbutz Saturday night after a Kassam rocket fell on one home Friday, wounding five members of the same family including a baby who is in moderate condition at Soroka University Medical Center. Under the agreement outlined by Altman, the government has agreed to bring portable shelters to the caravan park at Karmiya within the next few days while it also begins to construct permanent security rooms for each of the prefabricated homes. According to a 1992 law, all homes in the country must be constructed with security rooms or shelters - a requirement that was not met by the government and contractors when they built many of the temporary homes for Gaza evacuees. It was not clear how many of the 54 Karmiya families, all evacuees from Elei Sinai and Nisanit, had accepted the deal offered by Sela. For those that refused the offer to return to Karmiya, "the government is looking for alternative solutions," Altman said. Wherever the families from Karmiya wind up, their journey to the soldiers' club marked the fourth time they had moved since they left their homes in Gaza peacefully and before the government-issued August 15 deadline. At the soldiers' club on Sunday, parents tried to entertain their children, who did not attend school for the day, at the same time as they discussed among themselves what to do about their situation. A deep frustration had set in, said Anat Ben-AmiTaranovsky, that the government had still failed to provide them with adequate housing. "We were saying to each other just last week that it would take someone dying before they would do anything," Taranovsky said. Stroking her daughter's hair as the two looked out at the sea just below, she continued. "Finally, today, I broke. But the group is strong and we are supporting each other." Remaining together was one of the two requirements the Karmiya community has listed to Sela authorities regarding their demands for relocation. The other is to be given housing somewhere outside the range of Kassam rockets. "The absurd thing is that they are firing Kassams at us from the houses we used to live in," said Tzuri Genish, 47, who lived in Elei Sinai in northern Gaza. Shaking his head as he sat with a friend on a low wall, Genish likened his group's condition to that of the Beduin. "But the Beduin chooses to be a Beduin. The government has made us Beduin," he said. "Six days it took for them to expel us and now six months later they haven't found a place for us to live in safety and comfort." From the bed of his worn, white pickup truck, Itzik Gabay, 50, picked up a piece of thin, hole-ridden stucco. On it, the words "this was my door" were scrawled in permanent blue marker. "The walls of the caravans are so thin you can punch a hole through them with a pen," Gabay said as he took a pen from a reporter and stabbed his arm forward. Gabay came to Ashkelon with his wife, two daughters and two grand-daughters, all of whom slept on mattresses in the soldiers' club cafeteria Saturday night because "it is better to be here than in the line of fire," he said. "The state broke the law," he added, in reference to not providing them with enough security rooms at Karmiya, "and it is our blood that has been spilled because of it." According to Sela, a private contractor named Avelon built the caravans in Karmiya in conjunction with the kibbutz. Before heading into negotiations with the settlers, the Sela chief toured the home hit on Friday by the Kassam. Behind torn police tape, a plastic sheet hung across an entire wall which was blasted out in the attack. After viewing the damage, Bassi said it was the responsibility of the Home Front Command security department, and not Sela, to protect the Karmiya caravan dwellers. With cameras and sound recording equipment trained on Bassi, Gabay walked up from behind and asked that if the Sela chief was comfortable with the security arrangements, would he "come live with us here?" Bassi did not comment and walked away from Gabay and the group of reporters. Shortly after the Sela chief arrived in Karmiya, Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz came to speak with the small contingent of the community that did not remain in Ashkelon for the day. "We came here to help out the people here. We won't give up until the government does what it has to do," Peretz said, according to a spokesman. "There is no reason why, after so many months, the shielding [on the homes] is not complete. The fact that people have to live in temporary homes is severe enough, and someone [who is responsible] should not sleep tonight."