During Sukkot, Israel National News visited the expulsion victims of Netzarim who are finally begining to enter permanent homes in the Negev desert, more than five years since their eviction as part of the implemaentation of the Sharon government's 2005 "Disengagment Plan".
Shlomit Ziv of Nezarim spoke with Israel National News and explained that the involvement in building a new future helps cope with the trauma of the evacuation. "Being in the desert," she says "makes you become more modest, because it's the desert and you see in your own eyes that everything is in the hands of G-d."
The expelees are rebuilding their new lives in Halutza, which is located in Israel’s Negev Desert seven kilometers south of the Gaza region and one kilometer east of the border with Egypt.
Halutza already boasts a successful organic agricultural operation and incorporates environmentally-friendly methods, such as using recycled water for irrigation and organic farming techniques. A recently-signed contract calls for two solar power stations to produce five megawatts of electricity each.
Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, who also serves as the Minister for Regional Development and the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, was on hand during the festival of Sukkot for a cornerstone laying ceremony at Naveh, one of six communities planned for Halutza, in the Negev Desert. Minister Shalom helped to dedicate the building of a new school funded by the Jewish National Fund-USA.
Organizers of the ceremony from JNF-USA explain that in partnership with the Israeli Government and the Jewish National Fund, the creation of flourishing communities at Halutza highlights a new symbol of Israel's commitment to peace and the Zionist ideal to "make the desert bloom."
"This remarkable program is being undertaken in part by a pioneering group of former Gush Katif families (Gaza evacuees), joined by Israelis from all over the country, with the aim of laying the groundwork for the area to serve as a modern, well-planned population center." they said. The Halutza initiative is one key component of Jewish National Fund’s Blueprint Negev campaign to sustainably develop the Negev.
“Five years ago, Israel implemented the painful decision to uproot Israeli citizens from the Gaza Strip. Instead of dwelling in the past, Jewish National Fund is looking forward to the next five years and beyond with Halutza as a prime example of meaningful Negev development,” said Alon Badihi, Executive Director, Jewish National Fund-USA.