Living on a Prayer

Perplexed by the election polls, Gaza evacuees scorn Kadima and search for an 'ideological party'.

gaza settlers 88 (photo credit: )
gaza settlers 88
(photo credit: )
One week before the national elections and seven months after losing their homes and livelihoods in the disengagement, Gush Katif evacuees are perplexed by polls that indicate a victory for Kadima. Arik Harpaz of Elei Sinai, whose daughter and her boyfriend were murdered by terrorists in 2001, said, "I don't understand why anyone would vote for Kadima... it doesn't represent anything, certainly not what I believe in. "Look at all the Kassams falling on us near Yad Mordechai," he continued. "Olmert doesn't allow the IDF to respond effectively so they just bomb barren sand dunes, which is no deterrent. "I used to be politically central, but after my daughter's murder I realized that there's no one to talk with," said Harpaz. "Our enemies simply want to kill us, just like they killed my father's family in Poland. "For me, [my daughter] Liron was murdered twice - first by Palestinian terrorists and then by our government, that murdered her memory by forcing me to remove her memorial stone, now rotting on a trailer in our tent city," he said. Harpaz and his fellow evacuees in the tent city of Ohalei Sinai are hoping for a strong right-wing block that will prevent the future government from "playing the political games and machinations that enabled Sharon to force through the disengagement. "We need a government that is not reluctant to defend its citizens and sends a clear message to the Palestinians that if they subject us to terrorism they will suffer," Harpaz said. "The expulsion [from Gush Katif] was a major demonstration of Israeli weakness - a failure that brought Hamas to power and motivated our enemies by rewarding terror. It should not happen again." Despite his fierce opposition to further withdrawals, Harpaz fears that they may well become a future possibility. "I hope that whoever is the future government will deal properly with the expelled," he said. "Government ministers threw us out of Gush Katif and then left small-minded bureaucrats to sort out the aftermath. "Sharon is asleep and Olmert hasn't woken up," he continued. "He has never visited us. We have spent seven months in tents; our alternative was to be stuffed in hotels or cardboard boxes [a reference to the caravillas]. "The next expellees will simply be thrown into the street... If I knew then what I know now, I would have refused to leave my home," Harpaz said. Ella Hoffman, formerly of Neveh Dekalim, spoke with The Jerusalem Post by phone from a friend's house in Efrat. "All Kadima does is talk, but it offers no solutions," she said. Hoffman, who is leaning toward voting National Union, added that, "it will be a big mistake if Olmert gets in... he wants the glory, prestige and power of prime minister, but he has already shown that he is not prepared to accept the responsibility and accountability that comes with that," she said. "He can't even take care of the 9,000 [people] whom his government threw out seven months ago. We waited over seven months to get our compensation and most of our friends haven't even received compensation yet," she continued. "The poultry farmers affected by the bird flu will get compensated before our farmers do. I'm still in a hotel and have no idea when my caravan will be ready, but it appears the government plans to throw us out right before Pessah to make room for tourists... then what will we do?" she asked. Hoffman is fearful of the future if Kadima does win. "I think it's going to get worse... Gush Katif was just the spearhead and they had no solutions for us - they gave us unemployment, no housing and no schools. Faced with expelling 80,000 more people, they'll just tell them to get out and manage on their own," she concluded. Hana Cohen, a high school teacher and mother of eleven is currently living in the Hof Ashkelon Recreation Village. Unlike Hoffman, she said that after interminable delays, in the past few weeks work has progressed nicely on their anticipated caravan community in Ein Tzurim. "The government ministers want us in by the elections and they are pressuring us to move even before the public infrastructure is complete," she said. "I worry that it will be dangerous for the children to wander around during the ongoing construction of the site... while they are still building kindergartens, synagogues and other facilities." On the subject of the election, Cohen said, "I am concerned that Kadima will win the elections and create a strong left-wing political power... it is clear to all that Olmert is prepared to divide the country. "On the other hand, the expulsion was very hard for us and people don't believe in politicians anymore," she continued. "We don't see an ideological party to vote for. "Many are still angry with the state and do not plan to vote," Cohen said. "I think that is very dangerous... I myself will vote, but with a heavy heart."