Expulsion Victims Fear Abandonment

Thousands of people evicted from their homes and transferred to hotels fear they will be helpless next week when volunteers return to school. The government tried to discourage volunteer efforts.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 16:55

Hundreds of young children still have not been allowed to go schools and are stuck in hotels because no suitable housing is available.

Hannah Greenberg, a social worker from Jerusalem, said that after the families were forced to move into hotels after the expulsion, a Disengagement Authority worker tried to prevent volunteers from helping. "We will take care of everything," one government representative told them.

However, the Authority told one family who phoned for help, "Why don't you ask Devorah," one of the thousands of volunteers who have been organizing babysitting and activities for children. Disengagement Authority Director Yonatan Bassi took credit for the help and told Israel Radio, which questioned him about the needs of expulsion victims, "We have thousands of volunteers."

Virtually all of the volunteers fought against the expulsion plan. They have organized activities for children and arranged for Jerusalem residents to pick up and return laundry for families in hotels, Mrs. Greenberg said. Girls from the Alon Shvut institute for Jewish studies have been manning the volunteer operation but most of them will return to school next week.

Nursery and library facilities are unavailable for a group of former Ne've Dekalim residents transferred to Nitzan, according to volunteers. They added that the Education Ministry has rejected efforts by the residents to open a school on site and wants to bus children to a school on a nearby moshav.

Officials also have not permitted families from Kfar Darom to open a school at a Be'er Sheva hotel where they are staying.

Mrs. Greenberg said that the Education Ministry is "giving in to pressure" and may allow children in Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva hotels to start school next week.

"It is very sad and everyone is getting tired," she said. "One family took an apartment in Ashkelon. There is an air of uncertainty and lack of clarity." One volunteer accused the government of trying to break up groups from the destroyed communities.

Bassi has blamed the former residents of northern Gaza and Gush Katif for the housing problem because they did not cooperate with the government, which promised homes to people who would leave their homes voluntarily.

However, residents of the destroyed community of Bedolah said they started contact with the government 10 months ago and still are without proper homes. Nurit Musavi, who is living in a newly built trailer home in the Nitzan area near Ashkelon, pointed to construction equipment and said, "This is a building site. One tractor almost ran over a child, and there are large holes all over the place."

She added that the sewage system has not been completed. Galit Hagigi complained that there are no schools for older children. "There is no one to talk to," she said.