Nitzan residents take shelter in sewage pipe
Nitzan residents take shelter in sewage pipeFlash 90 (file)

Earlier this week roughly 20 business owners in Nitzan, in southern Israel, were given eviction orders. For the business owners – all former Gush Katif residents expelled from their homes in the 2005 “Disengagement” – it was the second serious blow in less than a year.

In early 2013, 165 families in Nitzan were given eviction orders after being ordered to pay rent of at least 1,400 shekels a month for their caravan homes.

The caravan homes were put up in 2005, and were meant to house families from Gush Katif for two to three years. However, more than eight years later, many families remain.

Community leader Aviel Eliaz spoke to Arutz Sheva about the latest eviction order and the feelings in the community, and warned that many of those who have successfully “resettled” are at risk, too.

“There are people here with diseases, people who have divorced… They know they have nothing to lose and some have become apathetic. There are 40 families here that have no way to move to permanent homes,” he stated.

There is no immediate risk of eviction, he noted, “but they have started a legal process against already weakened families.”

“There are families that have been through trauma, that have lived a quasi-life for over eight years – they can’t be expected to get up and do something,” he warned.

The businesses that may be evicted are vital to the community, he explained. “The small businesses serve the community, but more importantly, they give the people who run them a reason to get up in the morning… For many of them this is their rehabilitation after they lost so much.”

Many of those who have purchased new homes are at risk of eviction as well, he warned. “Families that went to Ashkelon and built [houses] took on huge debts. Today they are in debt, and the banks are waiting,” he revealed.

Those who waited for housing to be built in the cheaper communities promised by the government found themselves waiting for years, during which many burned through the money they had been given as compensation for their homes in Gaza. The government did not even begin to build infrastructure in many of the planned new communities until more than two years after the Disengagement.

The Tnufa Administration, tasked with assisting expelled families with resettlement, has explained that the eviction orders were issued by a branch of the Finance Ministry.

Finance Ministry officials said, “These are illegal buildings that were put up illegally… Putting up illegal structures creates a serious safety hazard, particularly regarding electricity, structural stability and fire safety… The action being taken was taken only after an in-depth assessment.”