At the time of this writing (Sunday, October 9th, 3 p.m. Israel time), according to the residents of the Shirat Hayam Hotel in Ashkelon, they are about to be expelled today to other hotels in Ashkelon (among them Shaul Hamelech, which is reported on below) and for an entire group in the hotel there is no solution and they don’t know where they will go. A spokesperson for the group said, “We are finished, broken.”
We contacted the office of Minister Matan Vilnai who was appointed by PM Ariel Sharon to take a personal interest in the evacuees. He await his reply.
We also contacted Channel Two News who said they will take an immediate interest in it. They had planned on doing a story on it tomorrow, Monday. Hopefully that will be moved up.
This had been the response that Disengagement Authority spokesman Chaim Altman gave to our questions on Thursday evening, before the electricity and water were cut the next afternoon: “My people told me there was an agreement. I don’t know why the hotel manager said there wasn’t. He is using them as hostages. He asked for us to sign to take the whole hotel for a month, which is not logical, because half of the rooms we don’t need and people are slowly leaving. And people are going to Nitzan and Karmia [where there is a serious security problem, as there has been attempted infiltration by terrorists and there are no bomb shelters there – TKG]. I depend on what people tell me.
“There are 630 families left in hotels. That’s not so many. We have very high sensitivity, we’re always solving problems, we do everything to do to solve problems, I do lots of things to try to solve. We have a special section for education, we have a psychological clinic for children, social workers, we solve many problems creatively.”
National Council of the Child
We asked the following questions, and received the following answers:
TKG: I would also like to know what, if anything, the National Council for the Child has done regarding the children who were removed from their homes, who now are lacking in clothing and/or school books or supplies, because the Disengagement Authority will not allow their parents access to the containers in which their possessions were packed.
We have not received any complaints regarding a lack of clothing or books for the children removed from their homes. Nonetheless, out of concern that appropriate care is given to the families and children of the disengagement, most of whom still have not received permanent housing, we have initiated a special Knesset discussion (in the Committee for the Rights of the Child) to which are invited representatives of the various relevant government offices. The discussion will deal with concern for the children “on the day after”. The Committee Chairman promised us that the committee will be held despite the Knesset break due to the importance of the subject.
TKG: I would like to know what involvement, in general, the National Council for the Child has had with the children who were harmed before, during and after the Disengagement process, as a direct result of the government of Israel to remove them from their homes.
The National Council for the Child is not a political group or related to any political party and therefore we do not deal with questions of correctness or incorrectness of political policy, whether to carry out the disengagement or not.
With that in mind, and without any connection to political views, it is clear that we are dealing with a difficult decision that has difficult implications for children as well and our roll is to try to shine light on these special aspects and to try to realize solutions that will at least reduce the possible harm. This is what we have done and this is what we continue to do.
National Council of the Child
The Saga Of Gadid
(This is an expanded version of the shorter report that went out on Friday, October 7.)
Our contact person was Shoshi Journeau, who was an assistant pre-school teacher and who now is the Gadid contact between the Neve Ilan Hotel and the Disengagement Authority.
We will begin with the personal story of Shoshi and some of her friends and then move on to the issue of the decrepit hotel in Tiberias to which they were sent on the eve of Rosh Hashana.
“There are 32 families from Gadid staying in Neve Ilan. There are also approximately 25 families in caravans in Nitzan, where they have different problems. They had some married children who didn’t own homes and who aren’t ‘deserving’ of compensation for one reason or another, so they’re living together with their parents.
“I was a pre-school assistant teacher. My husband was a maintenance man but he’s not receiving any pension because he worked for many different entities. In any case, it’s not relevant to talk about where we would work, since we have no home.
“There are some women who found work, as in the Kupat Holim clinics, but there is no transportation to take them there so they can’t take the jobs. It’s important to them to not lose their tenure. One was an administrative head, but the work she was offered is in Nitzan and she would have to take three busses to get there. She also has a 17-year-old son who has special issues and who was in a special school in Sderot. They found an alternative place, but there is no money for the specialized transportation now so he hasn’t been in school since the beginning of September. The issue reached as high as Basi but nothing has helped.
“We tried to be ‘good children’, and to solve our own problems, to ‘put out fires’, as it were, and to appreciate what we have, but how much can we take?
“Of my children, one is dorming at a school in Kiryat Arba, one girl in is in the Noam school in Jerusalem and the oldest is at Michlalet Yerushalayim. I have a post-army son who is leaving the country now. He said he doesn’t want to stay here after the Disengagement happened.”
The Decrepit Rosh Hashana Hotel
Shoshi continues, “We knew we would have to leave for Rosh Hashana, but the hotel we were sent to in Tiberias, the Shalom Plaza (and we were told there was another branch in Tiberias but we were sent to the bad one). You wouldn’t believe the stench that was in that hotel; all the dirty water from the dish washing was streaming across the entrance to the hotel. It looked as if it hadn’t been open for years, and they opened it special for us. The air conditioning broke down from one room to another, the air conditioning went up in fire in the shul; three women fainted. How much can one suffer?
“We arrived at a hotel that was a garbage dump. Some rooms were okay, but others were so filthy that we slept in the lobby. We called all kind of journalists but nobody wanted to ruin the holiday spirit.
[I spoke to someone from Channel 2 News who told me, “We work with Neve Ilan Hotel so I don’t know if there are any restrains regarding what we can report about it.” There was no report on it in the end. – TKG]
“My complaints are only to the Disengagement Authority, not to the hotel. I don’t know what they agreed upon with Neve Ilan. The Authority says that the hotel manager had to find a different place for the holidays. The manager told us that we could go and see the place in Tiberias first, but it’s far away, who would have thought that it would be so terrible?
“It was impossible to breathe in the rooms. We received three, as a large family, but we crowed into two because the third was so bad, we couldn’t stand it. There were babies who developed diarrhea and vomited. One baby had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night.
“On Succot we’re supposed to leave again. I said, ‘We won’t leave, let them bring yasamnikim [special police forces – TKG]. I am not leaving again. Let them bring the army again.”
No Laundry for a Week
“The [Neve Ilan] hotel staff told us that the Disengagement Authority didn’t pay the laundry bill, so for the last week we haven’t been able to do laundry there. [This conversation was held on October 6.] We did the most urgent things by hand. Maybe we should have set up laundry lines outside on the grass, but we don’t want to act unpleasantly toward Neve Ilan. When we left Neve Ilan for Rosh Hashana, they gave us a room in which to put things but we had to empty out the cabinets, etc., and we have no place to do laundry anywhere. I did laundry at 2 a.m. on Saturday night with one little washing machine. So we took our dirty laundry to Tiberias with us, thinking maybe we’d have an opportunity to do it there, but we just brought it back dirty with us.
“Now they [the hotel] told us that we should only send the laundry we need most urgently, for Shabbat, and they’ll do it. The Disengagement Authority tells us that they’ll take care of it, that it will be okay, that it will be settled after Rosh Hashana…the Authority says they’re trying to find a laundry that will do it, but nobody wants to work with them. It’s the third laundry, because they don’t pay. So a friend of mine took it to a public Laundromat at a place near the local grocery store. It cost NIS 10, but the dryer broke down in the middle. I told her to come hang it out here, on the grass of Neve Ilan.
“Our money is almost gone. We’re not the age that can receive early pension. My husband worked for the last three, four years, but before that he did all kinds of things, so he has no pension, has to totally start over. I have some compensation from my job that we’ll have to live on until they run out.”
Shoshi says bitterly, “And there were those ads on TV, ‘There is a solution for every settler.’ How will we solve these problems? And we’re considered a ‘strong’ group. I hold the group together, I’m trying to help, but I run up against brick walls. And small things are breaking us down. We’re not pampered people. We built our home with our ten fingers, literally. Is this what we deserve?
“After a week of trying, after we were expelled, we were finally able to meet with someone from a government office on September 2. We sat, talked, and they said they’d give us what we want. We wanted to stay together as a community. We suggested moving to [the communal moshav] Masuot Yitzhak, who also agreed to have us, and since then it’s been dragged along, postponed, over and over again; they still haven’t built caravans there.
“The hotel manager, who has to decide whether or not to accept reservations for next month, has begun to tell us to bring pressure on the Disengagement Authority; he says that when he asks them, they won’t talk to him about next month.
“There is nobody running the show from the Disengagement Authority. The one sitting here, in Neve Ilan, does nothing, and every time I turn to him, he says, ‘I don’t know what to do’, or ‘They don’t answer me’, or ‘Stop asking for so much’. He says, ‘It will be okay, tomorrow morning’, and another day, and another day goes by…
“I shouted, I cried. It’s impossible to go on.”
Response from the Disengagement Authority’s Chaim Altman: I’m hearing about the Tiberias Hotel now for the first time. I wasn’t there. The hotel in Tiberias is part of the same chain as Neve Ilan.”
About the other questions, “I believe what my people tell me. Regarding the laundry, we had an agreement with a sub-contractor that’s over now, and we have a new agreement with the hotel.”
The Saga Of Shaul Hamelech [King Saul] Hotel In Ashkelon
Our contact person asked that her name not be used.
“On the day of the disengagement, we arrived here at 5 a.m. We had sent our boys in a neighbor’s car, because we didn’t have enough room in ours, and we drove with our other children.
“We arrived and didn’t go to sleep and then got up. It’s hard to describe in words what we saw. We were in shock. We saw friends of ours, mostly our neighbors, which made it a little easier.
“The hotel had been closed by the Ministry of Health. The mayor, even the police, came here and saw that it was impossible. Every night the dining hall was full of cockroaches, and the laundry had rats.
“So they tried to improve it. But the fumigation is obviously not being done by someone professional, so there are still cockroaches, even in the food, in the shakshuka.
“It isn’t because they’re bad people, they’re just used to living this way, they don’t seem too upset about it. But they really try. Rosh Hashana was nice, they prepared a special menu, laid out white tablecloths, etc. They’re doing their best.
“Look, it’s not a five-star hotel. In addition to being thrown out of our houses, we had to deal with the lack of cleanliness. At least the people in Jerusalem could put their heads down in a clean room. We had to ask for more cleanliness, for normal food.” She is trying to laugh. “We have no idea when we’ll be leaving; I heard after the holidays, but no one’s told me that there is a caravan ready at Nitzan. There are 31 families here from Neve Dekalim and another 4 from Nisanit and one from Netzer Hazani.
“I was a medical secretary. I worked in the moetza (municipal authority) and they fired me of course because of the disengagement but I’ll be working in Ashkelon. My husband is a teacher in Ofakim. We have five children. It was catastrophic for us, but I know the hotel staff is really trying.
“I didn’t know where they were taking us when they took us out of our homes. The soldiers told me, ‘We’re dropping you off in Kissufim.'”
One Woman’s Story from Ganei Tal
Yehudit Tzveig of Ganei Tal, the daughter of Holocaust survivor Miriam Gross whose story appeared in Report #8, is currently in Kibbut Hafetz Haim and is waiting for a caravan in Yad Binyamin to be ready. Her husband worked in agriculture. Today he is working for someone else from Gush Katif, helping to build new greenhouses in place of those that were destroyed. Yehudit supervised all the pre-schools in Gush Katif. Since she is over 55, she will receive an early pension. She would rather be working, but, “If it already happened,” she says sadly, “I’m going to fulfill an old dream, to learn jewelry making.”
The Tzveig’s are separated now from their children, who used to live near them. “I have a son with three children in the Gold Hotel in Jerusalem, who had lived in Neve Dekalim, another son in Beer Sheva now, who had lived in Kfar Darom. This is our reality now. And another son who lived in Ganei Tal who is already in Yad Binyamin. He and his wife and baby were not part of [Ariel] Sharon’s plan, because they got married in September, 2004, three months after the cut-off date, so they don’t ‘deserve’ a replacement house. But the people of Ganei Tal looked out for them and arranged to get them a 45 sq. meter caravan. We’ve been in Ganei Tal for 28 years; we were among the founders.”
The Tzveig’s also have a married daughter living in Kfar Maimon, who was born and lived her whole life in Ganei Tal, but she won’t even receive the “veteran stipend”, because three years ago she got married and left temporarily to live closer to her place of study. When she wanted to return to live in Ganei Tal, there were no homes left.
Regarding compensation, she says, “Nothing goes smoothly, everything is difficult. And they said ‘There is a solution for every settler,'” she says bitterly.
For more information, contact Toby Klein Greenwald, email@example.com,
0523-822104. From the U.S., 011-972-523-822104.