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Gush Katif 'Present': Ministers to Get Half Vegetables

Farmers expelled from Gush Katif are planning a unique present for Israel's government – incomplete produce, in protest of incomplete aid.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 5/20/2011, 9:53 AM / Last Update: 5/20/2011, 1:46 PM

Farmers expelled from Gush Katif under the 2005 “Disengagement” plan are planning a unique protest on Sunday morning, as ministers prepare to vote on a bill that would give them additional aid. The farmers will give out vegetables sliced in half – half a tomato, half a pepper, and the like – to symbolize that the aid given until now has not been sufficient to establish an entire new business.

Ministers will meet at 9:30 a.m. Sunday to vote on a proposed law that would change existing aid protocol to give more assistance to Gush Katif expellees who wish to establish businesses.

Israelis expelled from Gush Katif received compensation for their homes and businesses, but the compensation was usually far from sufficient to rebuild their lives. Business owners were compensated according to the monetary value of their property and equipment as purchased in fledgling Gaza communities in the 1980s or 1990s – an amount far from the sum needed to buy similar equipment elsewhere in the country in 2006.

Farmers in particular found that the sum they were given – the estimated value of their old greenhouses – was far from enough to allow them to purchase new greenhouses.

Business owners, along with nearly all former Gaza residents, were also hard-hit by the lack of new housing following the expulsion. Many were forced to spend the money that was supposed to buy new homes and businesses to pay rent on temporary housing.

Reports criticizing the treatment of former Gush Katif residents began appearing less than one year after the expulsion.

The latest government response was the brainchild of MK Zev Elkin in coordination with the Prime Minister's Office. It would establish a committee with the power to grant additional aid to farmers based on special circumstances such as: having missed an agricultural season, losing their client base, extra expenses due to the differences between their previous land and new land, and more.

The bill aims to help farmers rebuild their businesses “in full, as large as they originally were... with no need for the evicted to bear the additional expense of establishing the business.”