Uncertainty for Gush Katif Schoolchildren

Many - but far from all - of the children who were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif will begin their school year near their temporary homes.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 11:42

The former residents of Kfar Darom are concentrated in the Paradise Hotel in Be'er Sheva. The elementary schools of Kfar Darom, with some 200 pupils, are almost ready to open their doors in their regular framework; a final decision on the precise locations of the boys' and girls' schools will be made in the coming days.

The Be'er Sheva municipality is cooperating in the opening of three temporary nurseries in the hotel. The teachers, hired in consultation with the families by the local Education Ministry supervisor - a resident of the Har Hevron region - include two pensioners and one woman on Sabbatical leave.

The above arrangements are only temporary, of course - as is most of what the 8,500 former Gush Katif residents are experiencing. The Kfar Daromites hope to move to their new apartment building in Ashkelon within a month or so. "It is a form of exile," one Kfar Darom mother, Ariela L., said. "But it's temporary, until we can move into our new, permanent community, hopefully with other Gush Katif towns as well."

Ariela said that the decision to move to a 19-story apartment building was not an easy one for families who are used to living practically outdoors. "But we did it so that we can get that problem out of the way fast," she explained, "and begin working on our permanent solution."

Asked what immediate problems she and her neighbors are dealing with, she said, "We have to gather our belongings. They are being kept somewhere in the Negev, and we have to gather them, and sort them out, and decide what will fit in to our new apartments, and what to do with the rest."

In Jerusalem, hundreds of former N'vei Dekalim families are making plans to pick up, educationally, where they left off. The girls' elementary school will open some time next month in classrooms in the Noam school in Kiryat Moshe, while the boys will study in the Netiv Meir building in Bayit V'gan.

The families expect to remain in their Jerusalem hotels for at least another three months, while the caravilot in Nitzan are being readied for them. "The government made sure to evacuate us as far as Kisufim, and then to Jerusalem," said Tami L., "but afterwards - nothing. They're great at blaming us, but now we just have to sit and wait for the caravilot to be ready for those of us who want to go to Nitzan - and then to wait for our permanent solution. We ourselves are not sure if we'll go there or not..."

The family's belongings are safe - if essentially inaccessible - in a container in Kfar Adumim. Tami said that she and her family have received invitations to spend Sabbath at people's homes "to last us for the whole year. But just the thought of packing up again is enough to deter us. On the other hand, the thought of living in a hotel for months is also impossible - I can't believe I've survived two weeks."

The expelled children of Netzer Hazani face a different set of problems. The tent city they and their parents set up in Tel Aviv has come to an end, and they returned yesterday and today to their temporary quarters in the Golan Heights community of Hispin.

This coming Monday, they were scheduled to set off southward for Shoresh, just west of Jerusalem, where they were to remain for three months until their interim caravilot in Ein Tzurim would be ready. As of today, however, this arrangement has been called off, as Shoresh cannot provide the hoped-for accomodations.

The people of Netzer Hazani are once again unsure of what the coming weeks will bring. At present, the plan is to remain in Hispin - far away from the jobs and schools that many of them had planned - until an arrangement is found. At present, it appears that the schoolchildren will study in the local school for the next few months, before they move to Ein Tzurim.

The children of Atzmona will be studying in their school in the Faith City - Ir HaEmunah - tent site their parents have built in Beit HaGedi, outside Netivot. Atzmonah resident and tent-city "mayor" Zevulun Kalfa told Arutz-7 today, "We took an approach of starting to work right away, such as building this tent city, and so our rehabilitation is going more quickly. Whoever is here can't help but be impressed by our vitality, healthy attitude, action and the like... With G-d's help, we'll be able to build the future. We're not planning this to be our permanent site; we're looking to move somewhere in the Negev. We are considering two alternatives: in the Lachish-Har Hevron area, or further south, near Tse'elim. We hope to be a few hundred families, from Gush Katif and from where elsewhere around the country as well; all are invited. We are trying to look for a large area that will hold several communities, to be incorporated into one authority. This will be a major settlement challenge; we're not giving up on anything, we're going forward. Our spirit is strong."
Kalfa said that people are invited to come visit them at Ir HaEmunah, "because if there are those who have been knocked down by the events or who are pessimistic or the like, then by coming here, they can become filled with strength. A Jew came here from New York yesterday, wanting to donate a playground; when he saw what we were doing, tears came to his eyes, and he said, 'I simply can't believe what I'm seeing - people who were just thrown out of their homes a few days ago and are already involved in continuing to build! It's just amazing.'"