Katif Expellees in Ariel: No End in Sight

The injustice that began with the 2005 Disengagement/expulsion shows no sign of ending in the near future – at least not for the town of Netzarim.

Contact Editor
Hillel Fendel, | updated: 20:20

Netzarim, just before Disengagement
Netzarim, just before Disengagement
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The injustice that began with the Disengagement/expulsion in 2005 shows no sign of ending anywhere in the near future – at least not for those who lived in Netzarim.

A large group of families from the Gush Katif town of Netzarim, now living in a neighborhood in the city of Ariel in the Shomron (Samaria), hosted a visit by leaders of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha Council) on Wednesday.

Now known as the community of Bnei Netzarim (Sons of Netzarim), the neighborhood comprises several dozen former Gush Katif families, mostly from Netzarim. Their goal in moving to Ariel was to continue the spirit that had permeated their lives before the expulsion and strengthen other parts and populations of the country. They operate a Hesder Yeshiva there named Netzer Mata'ai (lit., an offshoot of my [G-d's] plantings – a reference to Israel], headed by Rabbi Tzion Tawil.

From Disengagement to freeze
They purchased private land nearby on which to build their new homes after their original ones were destroyed in the Disengagement – but to their great consternation, final approval for the plans arrived just before the freeze on Jewish construction was announced last November.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak refused to allow them to begin building, and the residents and their relatively large families continue to live in tiny caravans, with no solution in sight.

All their efforts to have their special situation recognized as such and an exception made for them have thus far been for naught.

The visit of Council head Danny Dayan and Council Director-General Naftali Bennet featured a meeting with Netzarim communal leaders, to discuss the untenable situation in which the residents find themselves. They began by viewing from afar the land on which the permanent houses are to be built.

Work on smoothing the land had begun and all approval were finally received, but a few days later, the freeze was announced. No compensation for their financial losses – continued rental payments, money spent on initial work and obtaining approvals – or other suffering, such as the continuing uncertainty and cramped living quarters, has been offered.

A panel to consider exceptions to the freeze considered their case, but Barak, a member of the committee, insisted on applying the freeze to Netzarim as well. A subsequent appeal of the decision was also rejected.

Dayan said he met last night with the co-chairman of the Knesset Land of Israel lobby, MK Ze'ev Elkin of the Likud, and asked him to visit Ariel and Netzarim with the members of the lobby.