On September 18 it was announced that more than 30 families from Homesh, northern Shomron, would be moving to temporary quarters at Yad Hana, a communist kibbutz. According to Menora Hazani, a community activist and acclaimed documentary filmmaker from Homesh currently living in Shavei Shomron, along with seven other families, the number is closer to 15. She says there were 35 non-religious families in Homesh to begin with and another 27 religious families. According to Israel radio, in return for accepting the families from Homesh, the government of Israel will forgive most of the kibbutz debts, that are estimated at 4.5 million shekels. 15 other families from Homesh are scattered in caravans or hotels. Hazani says, “I don’t know where we will be long term but we want it to be in the Shomron.”
They have neither requested nor been offered any help from Minhelet Sela, who have initiated discussions with them about receiving compensation, but not about any long term housing solutions. First the Homesh people went to Elkana, where they stayed for two weeks at the expense of Elkana; and Shavei Shomron is also hosting them “our of good will”. They possessions are packed in containers that they cannot get to. Hazani has been documenting everything for a new film depicting the relations between the religious and non-religious of Homesh leading up to the disengagement, which were “full of love, but also arguments”. Channel 10 has expressed an interest in it but she will need private funding to complete it.
IDF Bulldozes Synagogue
Hazani also reported a little known fact that the residents of Homesh tried, without success, to get out to the media: On the same day that the Palestinians were burning synagogues in Gush Katif, IDF bulldozers destroyed the synagogue in Homesh. “They must have done it on their own,” says Hazani, “since the government had decided otherwise.”
All of the news outlets in Israel today (September 19) were abuzz with the fact that the Knesset Finance Committee approved an additional 1.5 billion shekels in “compensation” for the Jews who have been expelled from Gaza and the Shomron. The terms used (“massive”, “zorem” [flowing] funds”, etc.) gave the impression that these were new funds based on new demands. In fact, most of these were the same funds that had been approved by the High Court of Justice (after pro-bono attorneys proved that the government was offering too little), but that were threatened to be held back from the expelled if they did not leave by August 15 of their own accord. In fact, about 400 million of this amount will not go to the expelled, but to the various government offices who carried out the disengagement, such as Defense. Another 300 million will be used to help struggling business that have had to start over.
In an attempt to vilify the Gush Katif settlers, Basi is quoted in today’s Haaretz (September 19) as saying, “We promised the Gaza evacuees that we would maintain the life styles to which they were accustomed. Buying them seaside villas in Bat Yam is out of the question, so the next best thing is buying them half a dunam in Ashkelon.” This, in spite of the fact that the residents of the Katif settlements have never asked for ‘seaside villas in Bat Yam’, but have told every journalist who was willing to listen, “We just want to stay together as communities.” Meanwhile, they are asking for reasonable temporary dwellings where they can try to put their lives together again.
The Maariv site, NRG, reported that the people from Gush Katif will each receive “hundreds of thousands of shekels” for the years they’ve been there. In fact, each person from Gush Katif is slated to receive NIS 4,800 for every year he lived there (though the home-owners will receive nothing for their land or auxiliary elements, or for anything inside that upgraded the home). However, a young person who was born and raised in Gush Katif and got married after the cutoff date, to another girl in Gush Katif, and who together made a new home in Gush Katif, would receive nothing.
The same news source reported that the building in Ashkelon, meant to be the temporary home of 60 families from Kfar Darom, will cost 39 million shekels. What is not included in the article is that, according to Asher Mivtzari, spokesperson for Kfar Darom, the building is meant to also house all the community’s schools, kindergartens, yeshivot, community center and other community entities. NRG also quotes updates from Minhelet Sela that describe premises such as crowded and bare yeshiva dormitories as “guest houses”.
The director of the PM’s office, Ilan Cohen, reportedly met with people from Netzarim today, for the first time, in an attempt to find a temporary housing solution for them, as they are currently living in Ariel College. No spokesperson from Netzarim could be reached for comment.
Comic Relief: Ministry of Social Services: “Toss it”
Following the dissemination of the longer report submitted by this reporter, “The State of the Communities of Gush Katif and Northern Sinai”, I received a phone call from Gilat Hayun, secretary to Ministry spokesman Nahum Ido. She asked why they had been faxed the report, and said that Ido had told her, “There is nothing I can do with it. Toss it.” I explained that perhaps someone thought that the Ministry of Social Services would have some interest in the situation of the evacuees. After I rejected her offer to send it to the “research section”, she agreed to pass it on to the director of the ministry.