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Fight Continues for Gilo Families

Community leader fights for families that ‘lost everything in a moment.’
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/2/2014, 1:49 PM

Aftermath of Gilo gas explosion
Aftermath of Gilo gas explosion
Flash90

More than one month has gone by since a gas explosion in Gilo, in Jerusalem, killed four people, including a couple and their toddler son.

Twenty families’ homes remain unfit for use due to the blast. Arutz Sheva spoke to Ofer Ayoubi, head of the Gilo Community Administration, who is fighting to get the families the help they need.

“In the beginning everyone was interested in them, but as time goes by, they’re being left to fend for themselves,” he reported. “They are emotionally traumatized, they were hit financially, and in some cases were physically injured.”

“These people lost everything in a single second,” he said.

Filing a lawsuit “will take years,” he said. In the meantime, he reported, “I’ve been turning to all of the public institutions to get help, to let them continue their lives.”

The Supergas company has given a total of half a million shekels  to allow the families to rent alternate housing for the next year, he revealed. Supergas has faced accusations in the blast, as one of its technicians reportedly missed a gas leak; an investigation into the affair has not yet concluded.

“Twelve of the families will not be able to return to their homes for at least one year, and another eight will need to wait several months. The economic burden is huge… We all hope the money [from Supergas] will arrive in the upcoming days,” he said.

One elderly couple was particularly hard-hit, he noted. Max and Maya Schwartz, aged 88 and 86, respectively, lost their daughter Linda in the blast. Linda was their only child, and their primary caretaker.

In addition, the couple – who are both Holocaust survivors – lost their home, and suffered burns.

The Schwartzes “truly lost everything they had,” he said. Ayoubi said there are efforts to move the couple to an assisted living center, and to find a family to “adopt” them.

“We will not rest until we find them a home,” he pledged.

In mid-February, two couples and an eight-year-old boy were killed in a gas explosion in the city of Akko in northern Israel. The circumstances surrounding the blast remain unclear, and police have yet to publicly rule out foul play.