Gush Katif Resettlement Efforts Mired in Bureaucracy

Lior Kalfa, head of the Gush Katif Residents Council, described the situation of the some 1,700 families uprooted from their homes in Gush Katif ten months ago. "Bureaucracy rules," he says.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 17:18

"When the government wanted to expel us," Kalfa told Arutz-7's Yigal Shok, "there was no bureaucracy. Everything worked smoothly. But now, to resettle us, there are complications and everything goes very slowly. This cannot continue."

Ten months after the expulsion, 111 families are not yet living even in the temporary "caravilla" pre-fab structures. "Forty-five families from Elei Sinai are still in the Yad Mordechai encampment," Kalfa said, "because of legal problems with their move to Palmachim. Others are in Jerusalem hotels or guest houses. Some families from Netzer Hazani are still waiting for their final move to Ein Tzurim, because the contractors weren't paid. We truly hope that within three weeks they will finally be able to move there."

A group of 12 Knesset Members from both the coalition and the opposition visited some of the expelled residents' temporary communities on Friday. MK Moshe Gafni, representing the United Torah Judaism party, said, "Ensuring the welfare of the expelled residents must be at the top of the government's priorities, and we will include this in our coalition negotiations." UTJ has not yet agreed to join the government, but negotiations between UTJ and Kadima are scheduled to resume very soon.

The parliamentary group, including MKs of Kadima, Likud, National Union/NRP and UTJ, visited Nitzan, Yad Binyamin, Ein Tzurim, and Yad Mordechai.

"It is a national disgrace that 29 months after the government decided on the evacuation," MK Uri Ariel said, "some families are still living in hotels."

Unemployment is still a major problem, said Kalfa, a former resident of N'vei Dekalim. "Of the 1,860 people who became unemployed at the time of the expulsion - and this includes only residents of Gush Katif, not those of the northern Shomron and people from outside the Gush who worked there - 1,350 are still not working today."

Kalfa said he does not have exact statistics on how many families have received the promised compensation, "but I know that some, like my family, have not received anything at all. Some have received everything... One major problem is that the State changed the rules in the middle of the game. It's scandalous. The story is as follows: In accordance with a Supreme Court ruling, some 20-30 families brought private adjuster for their own homes to assess their value. They received assessments that were much higher than the government had given them, so the government took all the reports, held everything up for six months, and then simply released new assessments, for much lower sums, totally invalidating what the adjusters had found. I hope that simple integrity will lead to the proper solution for this problem; it is being dealt with, but I hope it won't have to be brought to court."

MK Ruby Rivlin (Likud), seeing the poor conditions in the Ein Tzurim to which the families of Netzer Hazani were forced to move, said, "The Sela Administration's demand that the families move immediately into these buildings is scandalous. The structures and the infrastructures are simply not ready. In any other place in Israel, people would not be allowed to live like this."

Kalfa demands two things, and told as much to the Knesset Members who came to visit:
"The government has called our rehabilitation a 'national mission,' but it is working with no urgency whatsoever. At this rate, it will take years before we return to a normal level. This must be changed. In addition, I have some hope in the new Knesset; the very fact that even some non-right-wing MKs saw fit to join the lobby on our behalf is very encouraging. I hope that the Knesset will make the needed changes in the Compensation-Evacuation law. I also hope that the new Directors-General of the government ministries will help us."