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Gov't Stalls Communal Solutions; Katif Communities Disintegrate

While the government is delaying communal solutions, some former Gush Katif communities are simply disintegrating - and this is the real tragedy, says Naamah Zarbiv of Moshav Katif.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/24/2005, 1:11 PM / Last Update: 10/24/2005, 12:58 PM

The families of Moshav Katif were taken, on Expulsion Day over two months ago, to the Kfar Pines Girls High School, where they have been living in dormitories. Though originally committed to relocating together as a group - in accordance with unambiguous psychological recommendations submitted to the government over a year ago, based on the experience of the expulsion from Yamit in 1982 - some families have essentially given up and left.

Naamah Zarbiv, a long-time veteran Katif resident, is clearly anguished at the situation:
"When we say the popular slogan, 'We won't forgive and we won't forget,' it no longer refers to the expulsion itself - it's mainly because of what has happened to the communities since then. Our beautiful communities are simply falling apart. The government is keeping us hanging, not providing the [communal] solutions, and little by little people are just leaving. Some of them have gone off on their own, and others to Yad Binyamin or other locations.

"In addition, another 10 or so have gone to the Faith City encampment of Atzmonah - but they have not split off from us; on the contrary, they are there in our name, in order to exert pressure on the government. But it doesn't look like this plan worked, and instead it has merely increased the sense of disintegration."

"To be precise," Naamah continued - simultaneously showing almost full attention to her little children who needed her help as they drew pictures - "let me emphasize that we were originally 70 families in Moshav Katif - and a full 65 of us arrived here in Kfar Pines after the expulsion. This was very impressive, considering all the pressures we all faced. Just in the past few weeks, however, another 20 families have left (not including the 10 to Atzmonah) - and that is a very large percentage. Many simply couldn't take the uncertainty any more, and because of this, our beautiful community is falling apart. For me and many others, this is simply the end of the world. Why doesn't the religious public realize this? Why are the intersections not full of protests over the destruction of the towns? Where are all our politicians from the National Union, and Uzi Landau, and all the others?

"Even the families that went to Atzmonah - if the prefab housing units the government promised us are not ready, then as time passes, they will become more and more attached to Atzmonah, and are likely not to return. The same with the other families who have gone elsewhere... In other communities, too, the situation is similar: Atzmonah has split up into two, and Netzarim, and Gadid, and of course N'vei Dekalim [the largest of the Gush Katif communities - ed.]... If our prefab housing site near Lahish and Nehushah had been ready, where we want to build our new community, 50 families would have been there now. But instead, the units have not even begun to be built! The black humor going around here is that the only one who really believed that 'hayo lo tihyeh' [the promise by some rabbis that the expulsion would not take place] was Yonatan Bassi [the head of the Disengagement Authority, who did not prepare sufficient housing for the expellees]..."

"We were told that only if 120 families promise to move in, would the government start building the prefab housing site. We were close to this number, with families from N'vei Dekalim and elsewhere - but the government refuses to enter into real negotiations with us because the matter of Kfar Darom's move to their apartment building has not yet been finalized, though we don't know why there has to be a linkage. And so every day that it drags on, more people drop out; just yesterday and today, two more families dropped out."

"It appears that for most of the country, the problem of Gush Katif was over the day of the expulsion - and from then on, it became our own private problem. Is it just a matter of donations and charity from the various funds? Is it just our private issue, or is it a national calamity that the beautiful communities of Gush Katif are disintegrating? All along the highways you see signs warning that Gush Katif was just the beginning and that other areas are next - as if there is nothing left to work for on behalf of Gush Katif itself. People are busy arguing about what should be our attitude towards the State in light of the expulsion - are barely even know about the concrete problems that the expulsion has caused and is causing."

The only bright note that Naamah can see is the upcoming holiday of Simchat Torah, which begins tonight: "All the families of Katif are returning to Kfar Pines for the holiday, as well as many of the people who were with us in our last days and weeks before the uprooting, and this should raise our morale. But the day after, we're being shuffled off to a hotel in Ashkelon for who knows how long; it's not considered a good hotel, and we're sure to lose some more families in the process..."