Two Thirds of Gush Katif Refugees Still 'Homeless'
Seven years after 10,000 Jews were thrown out of their homes in Gush Katif and northern Samaria as part of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Disengagement plan, barely one third of Gush Katif refugees have found new permanent homes. A poll by the Ma'agar Mochot organization said that only 35% were living in permanent homes. The rest were either renting apartments, or living in the “caravilla” trailer park villages.
Many of the homes in these trailer parks are in terrible disrepair, with residents being forced to make ad-hoc repairs of the cheaply-built trailers, which were supposed to be used for no more than a year. Infrastructure, such as plumbing, in many of the communities is also still insufficient, seven years later.
The poll was commissioned by the Gush Katif Residents Council on the seventh anniversary of the Disengagement. Unemployment is also high among former Gush Katif residents, according to the poll, with 14% not working – a far cry from the 4% unemployment rate among residents when they were living in their home communities.
In addition, 50 out of the 400 individuals who owned farms in Gush Katif are still waiting for the government to allocate them land in exchange for the land they were forced to abandon.
Eliezer Ohrbach, chairman of the Gush Katif Residents' Council, said that “the fact that the State of Israel failed in its dealings with those expelled from Gush Katif was already determined by a government inquiry two years ago. Since then, legislation has been passed that has somewhat alleviated the situation, but there are still many problems.
“We have much work to do in order to ensure that all Gush Katif residents will have their problems resolved,” Ohrbach said. “We call on all officials responsible for doing so to make resolving the refugees' problems their top priority.”