Representatives of most of the communities destroyed in Gush Katif under the Expulsion Plan have expressed their preference to re-establish their towns in the Lachish area.

The area under consideration borders the Mt. Hevron district of Judea. Establishing a settlement bloc in Lachish would create territorial contiguity between Hevron area towns and those located on lands that belonged to Israel prior to the 1967 Six Day War.

Representatives of Israel's new Jewish refugees met on Friday, September 23, in Kibbutz Hafetz Chaim, a religious kibbutz that has provided temporary housing for them. At the meeting, the Gush Katif leaders discussed various settlement alternatives. Those attending came from the former towns of Kfar Darom, Katif, Netzer Hazani, Morag, Tel Katifa, N’vei Dekalim, and Atzmona.

The group discussed two primary alternatives: 1) settling the Ofakim-Tze’elim area of the Negev, near Be'er Sheva, or 2) relocating further northeast, in the Lachish region.

Members of the group will be exploring the two regions on Monday, before a final decision is reached.

One potential problem regarding the Lachish region is that the area under discussion lies between an army firing range and the security barrier/border wall that is being erected roughly along the former 1967 armistice boundary. The possibility of setting up a separate, independent municipality, however, is one of the major advantages of re-establishing the Gush Katif communities in that area.

In a related development, 20 families from the destroyed town of Netzarim in Gaza have decided to remain in Ariel where they are living in temporary housing.

Netzarim’s rabbi, Tzion Tawil, has decided to relocate the Netzarim yeshiva to Yavul, a small town in the Kerem Shalom area of the Negev. Rabbi Tawil will retain the Netzarim Kolel, a Torah study program for married students, in Ariel.

Another five families are undecided whether to stay put in Ariel, or move to Yavul.