38 more families to leave Gaza (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND JPOST STAFF 02/01/05)
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As a mother of four girls, Mali Gross does not see herself as a
warrior. So she is one of 38 families — half from Elei Sinai and half
from Nisanit — who on Tuesday came to an agreement with the
government to move to Bat Hadar outside of Ashkelon.
It´s the largest such agreement to date.
"I never wanted to leave, it´s a beautiful place," said Gross, who
moved to the seaside community of 349 people in 1995. When she first
heard of the government plan to evacuate the 21 settlements in the
Gaza Strip and four in the Shomron she didn´t believe it.
"I always said I didn´t want to leave," said Gross. "I was sure the
initiative would fail, that the government would not let it pass."
But now that it has survived a cabinet and Knesset vote, she decided
that she had a responsibility to her children to come up with an
Their agreement with the government is good only if the compensation
bill passes the Knesset next week, and there are still many details
to be worked out.
"We have not left. We are waiting for the law to pass," said Gross,
who moved to the community in 1995 from Rishon LeZion. Should
disengagement legally fail, she would of course stay.
But she added when it comes to planning, "I didn´t want to wait for
the last minute."
Unlike some of her neighbors who have vowed to never voluntarily
leave, Gross said, "I´m part of a democratic nation. We are a family
that follows the law." Her motto is, "pray for best, but prepare for
She is glad that her daughters ages 6, 9, 10 and 16 won´t be around
to see the town they love destroyed. "They will remember it as they
knew it," she said.
Those leaving will be given half a dunam of empty land and
reimbursement for the value of their home as described as will be
decided in the compensation bill. It´s possible that the bill could
also provide them with compensation for living expenses as they wait
for their homes to be built, or that it could give them the $30,000
reserved for those who move to development areas.
Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit, who is in charge of the
government´s compensation legislation for the 8,000 people whom the
government wants to move out of Gush Katif by next fall, said that
the option for group resettlement is to the Negev or Galilee.
Sheetrit said that people who want to move to settlements in the West
Bank as individuals may, but not as a group.
The government expects that many of the settlers will not want to
move to the West Bank, since some that area will probably be
evacuated in the long run as well, the official said.
Tuesday´s agreement is the second such deal made by the Disengagement
Authority with Gaza Strip settlers. In December, the 25 families of
Pe´at Sadeh also agreed to relocate to Moshav Mavki´im near Ashkelon.
According to the Authority it is in negotiations with other
communities. It is the Authority´s preference to relocate communities
or large groups as a unit, rather than to scatter the 8,000 Jewish
residents of the Gaza Strip throughout the country.
Gush Katif spokesman Iran Sternberg said he saw the deal as a sign of
the government´s failure to sway the 8,000 Jewish residents of the
Gaza Strip to leave. The decision of only 62 families to leave proves
that the "residents of Gush Katif are standing as firm as a stone
wall against the attempts of the government to bribe them."
Avi Farhan, one of the Elei Sinai founders, downplayed the
announcement. He believes only 8 or 11 families from his community
are leaving, and they are those want to go anyway.
He accused the Disengagement Authority of recycling the same people
to give the impression that the residents of Gush Katif are ready to
go. It´s no coincidence that an announcement like this comes only
days after a large rally against disengagement or a week before a
critical Knesset vote, said Farhan.
It´s upsetting, he said, to think that some of his neighbors, do want
to leave. "An announcement like this is like a knife in our backs,"
Unlike Gross, he is among those, who believe that the democratic
process has been aborted rather than adhered to when it comes to
disengagement. Like the 130,000 anti-disengagement protesters who
attended the Jerusalem rally on Sunday, he wants the government to
hold a national referendum on the issue.
If a referendum were held, he would abide by it. "If it says that Avi
Farhan has to leave, I will pack my things in great pain and go."
Otherwise, said Farhan, he plans to remain. This is his second
experience with evacuation. In 1982, he was forcibly evacuated from
Yamit in Sinai. At the end of that year, he and a number of other
families from Yamit founded Elei Sinai.
A pragmatist like Gross, Moshe Adasha was not among those who came to
an agreement with the Disengagement Authority. He called it "hasty
and premature." Yet, he said, he understood that they felt "an
immediate need to move."
Adasha himself spearheaded an Elei Sinai-based initiative of a mass
exodus of settlers to a "replica," community elsewhere in Israel
proper. So far, 56 of 85 families living in Alei Sinai have signed a
petition agreeing to leave should the Knesset pass the Evacuation
Compensation Bill, Adasha said.
Adasha along with several others has lobbied Sela to induce the
government to accept the Nitzanim beach between Ashdod and Ashkelon
as a suitable location to "replicate" their community. Their efforts
have been met with stiff resistance by an overburdened Disengagement
Authority and other government ministries.
Nitzanim is currently, and paradoxically, both a nature preserve and
an IDF firing range. Settlement sources said added that a large
number of families from the settlements of the Bedolah, Gan Or,
Rafiah Yam and Gadid are lobbying to for their communities to be
replicated along the Nitzanim Beach.
Matthew Gutman contributed to this report (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem
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