Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Gush Katif Town to be Rebuilt

Hillel Fendel

Three and two-thirds years after being thrown out of their Gush Katif homes in Ariel Sharon’s 2005 Gaza Disengagement program, the former residents of Netzer Hazani are signing a historic agreement to build their town anew - midway between Rehovot and Beit Shemesh.Residents of the destroyed town of Netzer Hazani, the first one to be built in Gush Katif in 1973 are marking a historic day Monday, after years of uncertainty and limbo. Following expulsion from their homes in the summer of 2005, nearly half of the 400 residents moved to temporary housing in Hispin in the Golan Heights, while most of the others moved to similar quarters in Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, northeast of Ashkelon. Within a few months, most of those in the Golan joined their former townsfolk in Kibbutz Ein Tzurim.

Though told that they would be able to build their tight-knit religious-Zionist community anew outside Yesodot, a hareidi-religious moshav some 20 kilometers northeast of Ein Tzurim, the plans became continually bogged down in bureaucracy and indecision. The residents never lost faith or hope, however, that they would one day merit to leave the transient lifestyle to which they refused to become accustomed, and would be afforded the opportunity to rebuild a Jewish community in the Land of Israel.

On Monday, it happened – on paper. In an afternoon ceremony in the Netzer Hazani community building in Ein Tzurim, members of Yesodot, the individual families of Netzer Hazani, and the representatives of the SELA Disengagement Authority, representing the Prime Minister’s Bureau, signed an agreement signaling the beginning of the new town. The land is being purchased from Yesodot by the government of Israel and the families.

Near Yad Binyamin

Yesodot is located just to the east of Yad Binyamin, where many Disengagement-expelled families reside in temporary quarters. The former community of Ganei Tal, a neighboring community of Netzer Hazani in Gush Katif, has been living intact in Yad Binyamin; its families recently signed a similar contract paving the way for the rebuilding of their community outside nearby Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim.

It is estimated that it will be at least another two years before the Netzer Hazani families will actually be able to move into their new homes. This, despite the fact that the temporary "caravilla" trailer park in which they are living was originally designed for a maximum of three years. The “expiration” date of their homes is thus right around now.

Anita Tucker, a founding member of Netzer Hazani who has become the town’s unofficial spokeswoman, expressed satisfaction with the new agreement, but added, “At the same time, we long to return to our real homes - especially those of us who were born and grew up in Gush Katif [Jewish Ga. We hope the day will soon come when we will be able to return home to Gush Katif and rebuild there.”

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