Gush Katif Lawyers Rebuff Gov't Claims

Atty. Yitzchak Meron, heading the volunteer legal forum representing the deportees, provides evidence that the government is simply unprepared to provide for the 1,700 evicted families.

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, | updated: 15:38

David Bedein, Jerusalem Bureau Chief of Israel Resource News Agency, summed up Atty. Meron's press conference of Tuesday, August 23 as follows:

The government of Israel has launched a PR blitz to convey the impression that Israeli citizens evicted from their homes and farms in Katif and Northern Samaria over the past week were given checks in excess of half a million dollars, sent to luxury hotels until the end of the month, with new homes waiting for them at the end of the summer.

Dr. Meron explained how the Israeli government is simply not prepared to provide for the 1,700 families evicted from their homes in Katif and Samaria, and made the following ten points.

1. The Israel Legal Forum, representing these evicted communities, asked the government last December to do everything in its power to see to it that the communities to stay together, wherever they are relocated. Every significant study (especially those regarding what happened when people were moved from Sinai) indicates that keeping communities intact helps to prevent post traumatic stress disorder, which can result in serious emotional disability.

2. The government, clearly aware of all of this, still preferred to act in a fashion that would break up communities, dealing with separate families, attempting to place them in different locations.

3. Monetary compensation will be provided according to a formula which involves the time of residence in the community, whether or not the family owned or was renting, along with factors of family size. Most families have yet to receive any money. Meanwhile, most families have not been able to afford the cost of moving and storing their possessions. As a result, many families had to abandon priceless posessions.

4. The government threatens to reduce compensation of persons who refused to leave voluntarily before August 17th. These threats are being challenged by the Forum in the Israel High Court of Justice as being patently illegal.

5. The government rented out 1,000 rooms in hotels for evacuees, in the center and south of the country although the reality was that 2,500 rooms were required, because of large families. The rental of hundreds of hotel rooms in outlying regions did not solve the problem.

6. No social workers were dispatched by the government to help the evacuees cope logistically, and no psychologists were sent by the government to be on hand to help with the trauma.

7. There is insufficient food in hotels which offered only two meals a day and lack of facilities for doing laundry and no medical facilities.

8. 90% of the families have no idea yet where they will go in two weeks time.

9. Some 450 families signed up for caravan mobile homes (euphemistically referred to as "caravillas") in Nitzan (adjacent to Nitzanim). 366 families have received their keys, but are encountering vast problems: There are no synagogues, no schools, no clinics and no shops. These mobile homes cannot fit the books, furniture or appliances of people from Katif who are being moved from much bigger homes. Their possessions are stored in hot warehouses near Be'er Sheva, with no insurance.

10. The government claim that Katif communities had not contacted the authorities on time was refuted. The Israel Legal Forum wrote with a "power of attorney" to the government of Israel on behalf of the people of Katif last December. However, the government would not respond to the officially appointed legal counsel of Katif residents, preferring instead to mislead the media into believing that the people of Katif simply "refused to deal with the authorities."