Knesset Passes Law to Provide Permanent Homes for Gaza Expelees

Bill gives government one year to build permanent communities; many victims still suffer trauma

Avi Tuchmayer ,

Heydey of Gush Katif: Nevei Dekalim
Heydey of Gush Katif: Nevei Dekalim

The Knesset unanimously passed legislation Tuesday eliminating some of the bureaucratic red tape required to establish new permanent communities for former Gush Katif residents. The bill, introduced by MK Zev Elkin (Kadima), moves to correct a major failure of the 2005 Evacuation-Compensation Law that was intended to compensate victims of the Gaza disengagement plan.

Gush Katif and northern Shomron residents were made homeless in the framework of Ariel Sharon's 2005 Disengagement Plan, in which Israel demolished 25 of its own towns with the stated purpose of improving its security situation.

The law gives the government one year to resettle people who lost their homes in Gaza, and requires Prime Minister Olmert to report to the Knesset every three months with a progress report on resettling the families. 

"We have set a timetable for the government to resettle the evictees," said Elkin," and we managed to shorten the timeframe as was previously done for new immigrants. If it is possible to do so for new immigrants, we must also take care to do it for the evictees."

Despite the 2005 law providing compensation for lost homes in Gaza, successive governments have failed to establish new communities to replace the flourishing ones that were destroyed. As a result, hundreds of refugee families have been stranded in temporary dwellings since being evicted from their homes nearly three years ago. Residents say the temporary structures are barely inhabitable, and recent reports suggest a high percentage of Gaza evictees continue to suffer trauma as a result of the eviction.

I am pleased we have managed to right a wrong, and happy that we managed to overcome opposition from the government to provide a little help for the evictees," Elkin added.