"81 Days Without a Home"

Some 1,200 people rallied on behalf of thousands of expelled residents from Gush Katif and Shomron in Jerusalem Tuesday night. 600 families are still living in tents, hotels, or dormitories.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 9:54 AM

The protest was organized by grassroots activists living in Talmon, between Ramallah and Modiin. Expelled residents still living in temporary quarters addressed the crowd and explained the difficulties of spending nearly 12 weeks living in hotels and the like.

One woman said that she was told in the Interior Ministry that the policy was not to provide help for the expellees unless they officially change their address from Gush Katif to whatever hotel they were staying. Another couple changed its address to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station for this reason. Other speakers talked of various other humiliations they face daily.

The call echoing from all the speakers was addressed to the Prime Minister and the government, asking them to turn a listening ear to the pleas of the people they made homeless and to begin relating to them as normal people.

The Yesha Council of Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza released statistics before the rally, showing that 35% of the evicted families are still living in ultra-temporary quarters such as hotels and tents, and 40% are in caravans, pre-fab housing or other two-year solutions until their permanent housing becomes available.

Among the latter group are former residents of Ganei Tal now living in Yad Binyamin; expellees from Atzmona and Netzarim residing in Yevul and Yated in the Halutza Sands area; some 300 families from various communities living in the newly-built pre-fab community of Nitzan; and others.

Communal solutions have still not been found for places such as Moshav Katif, Kfar Darom, Netzer Hazani, and N'vei Dekalim. For others, such as Slav, Ganim, Kadim, and Dugit, it is too late for such solutions, as they have already broken apart.

The Council notes that three-quarters of the residents are still without work.
Seven-eighths of the residents have not received any advance payments on their government-promised financial compensation, leaving them without money to pay for basic essentials. This Thursday, an emergency Supreme Court session has been called to hear a petition by the Land of Israel Legal Forum, demanding that all compensation money be freed up.

The L'maan Achai [On Behalf of My Brothers] organization, which is coordinating much of the relief efforts, reports that the situation is particularly difficult in the King Sha'ul Hotel in Ashkelon. The hotel was originally disqualified for housing the deportees because of poor health conditions, yet despite this is now housing them. The hotel has cut down on meals, reduced electricity and heating, provided an insufficient number of blankets, and the like. In one case, a family of five people is living in one room.

Participants at the rally held signs reading, "81 days without a home," "There is no solution for every resident" [a reference to the government's television-and-radio campaign boasting of a 'solution for every resident'], "Have you thrown out and also abandoned?" and the like.

Preparations are underway for a massive sit-in strike in Jerusalem to protest the government apathy towards the expellees. It will be run under the banner of "All Israel are Guarantors for One Another," and the organizers say it is not designed for youths - who should be in school - nor for Knesset Members, who have other ways of waging the struggle. Registrants are asked to specify if they can remain for only three days, or for longer. For details, call 09-7921290.