For the past six years, the members of the Zweig family have been living in caravans scattered throughout Israel. Now they are back together in the newly reestablished community of Ganei Tal.
Ganei Tal was one of the many Jewish communities in Gush Katif whose residents were forced out of their homes in 2005, during the Ariel Sharon government’s unilateral disengagement plan.
After they were expelled from their homes the community’s residents were forced to move into temporary caravans, where they lived for nearly six years.
Ganei Tal has now been reestablished near the central Israel kibbutz of Hafetz Haim. On Monday, Yehudit and Yehoshua Zweig entered their new home in the new Ganei Tal and on the same day were also able to put in another house in the neighborhood their parents, Holocaust survivors who are also formerly Gush Katif residents.
“We were four generations in Gush Katif,” recalled Yehudit Zweig during an interview with Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website. “One son lived in Kfar Darom, two were in Neve Dekalim, we were in Ganei Tal, and our parents were also in Neve Dekalim. All of us were expelled from our homes and we underwent some difficult times.”
Zweig described living in the caravans as “a nightmare. The house fell apart and we couldn’t even host the children for Shabbat. We have one son with six children and another with five children. In Gush Katif we could put them in the house all at once, but in the caravan it was just impossible.”
Zweig expressed hopes that the whole family will get together for Shabbat from now on.
“After the expulsion we were all scattered throughout the country. One was in Shekef [a moshav in south-central Israel –ed.], two were near Nir Akiva [a moshav in southern Israel –ed.], my parents were in Meitar [north-east of Beer Sheva –ed.], and one son was in Kfar Darom. Now we can unite them all as it was in Gush Katif. At last we feel that we have a solid floor under our feet.”
Zweig’s parents are Holocaust survivors and she described the hard feelings she felt when her parents were about to be forced to undergo another expulsion six years ago.
“My parents are Holocaust survivors, they are 90 years old, and we did not want them to experience another expulsion after the one they experienced in Auschwitz,” she said. “We did not want them to be expelled from Gush Katif, this time by Jews. So we took them out of Gush Katif a month before the expulsion. For the last six years they lived in Meitar, and now at last they have moved next to us. We built them a small house of 78 sqm. They tell us that the fact that they moved near us gives them the will to live; it’s a huge joy for them.”
While Zweig and her family have had the luck of moving into a permanent new home, many of the Gush Katif expellees are still living in caravans, and some have expressed concerns that they will be forced to live this way for many years to come.
It has been reported that many of the expellees have been unable to find new employment, leading to an economic instability and an inability to build permanent homes.
Officials promised a “turning point” for the Gush Katif evacuees this past winter, with the heads of the Tnufa Administration, the body charged with resettling thousands of Jews who were expelled from Gaza, predicting that at least one third of the expellees would be in permanent homes by the end of the year.
Aware of the difficulties the expellees face, Zweig ended by expressing her hope that all the families who were evacuated find their permanent homes eventually.
“In Gush Katif we had 32 kindergartens and I was responsible for all of them between Morag and Gush Katif,” she said. “Today I am retired and the children are scattered all over the country. Unfortunately some are still stuck in caravans and some will remain there because they’ve run out of money. We have been lucky to find a permanent home, but they have not and it is a very difficult story.”