Upon their eviction from northern Gush Katif a month ago, the families were welcomed to the Kfar Pines Ulpanah Girls High School near Hadera. "The high school has been exceedingly generous and welcoming," said one resident. "They have given us an office, and even more impressively, the senior year girls are sleeping outside in tents, while our families are using their dorm rooms."
But it's not quite home, and as the weeks wear on, the situation is becoming harder. "Our jobs and our schools are in the south, not here," said one resident, Chaim Ben-Aryeh. "It's very hard to live with such uncertainty, and with two dormitory rooms for each family, and traveling back and forth to the south, and the like. Our children are also in-between, studying in the meanwhile in a day-camp style school that we have set up here for ourselves. It's hard to say that it's a real school..."
(pictured: the park in Moshav Katif built in memory of resident Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, who were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Gush Katif in May 2004)
They were originally informed that they would be relocated two hours to the south, in Eibim, where students of the nearby Negev College reside. This was to be a solution for the coming few months, with the Negev students being housed in Sderot, a five-minute walk from their place of study instead of the current three kilometers. The Katif residents, on the other hand, would be able to plan for their next stage of life with some semblance of normalcy.
The small apartments in Eibim are very small, roughly a third of the size of many of the homes the displaced Katif residents worked 25 years to build - but the Katif people welcomed them with open arms. The arrangement was abruptly canceled two weeks ago, however, just a couple of days before it was to be implemented, by the Jewish Agency - despite its own previous consent. The stated reason: hardship for the students who would be moved to Sderot.
The residents do not accept this explanation. "The clear impression is that the authorities wish to do all they can to break up our communities," Chaim said. "Despite the social workers' and psychologists' well-known recommendations to keep our communities intact in order to help us weather this crisis, there are simply too many cases where the government can't seem to find communal solutions for us and for other Gush Katif communities. They are trying to break us, but we won't be broken - though it is very hard."
The residents have awaited a final answer on the issue for the past two weeks, but the Prime Minister's Office cannot seem to come up with one. "Ilan Cohen [head of the PM's bureau] seems to want to help," Chaim said, "but the fact is that at this point, all indications are that the answer will be no."
Arutz-7: "What are your plans, in that case?"
Chaim: "I hope very much that we will not split up into different groups, with many of us going separate ways. Until now, we have been able to retain our cohesiveness very impressively - only about 10 of our 70 families are not here with us in Kfar Pines. But the question is, how long can it last.
"Tonight, we have a very important meeting, with a couple of options on the table. One possibility is that we will join the Atzmona 'City of Faith' encampment near Netivot [in the Negev], and live in tents. Another option is to move to Yad Binyamin with families from N'vei Dekalim, and a third option is for some of us to move into small apartments in Ashkelon... I very much hope that we will decide to stay together, but this is far from certain.
"In any event, it's important to remember that this is still just another temporary stage, as we still have no idea where our permanent community will be built. There is talk of moving to the Lachish region near Kiryat Gat and southern Judea, but this is still 2-3 years away - and will probably involve moving yet again while the permanent solution is being built."