March 6, 2005
A new initiative seeks to provide housing for the hundreds of
individuals and families who want to move to Gush Katif to strengthen veteran Jewish
residents in the face of expulsion.
In recent months the communities of Gush Katif have been inundated with
requests by people who want to move there. This despite the fact that according to
the expulsion/compensation legislation they would not be compensated for the
destruction of their property if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement
plan is implemented.
While aides to Prime Minister Sharon have confided that the plan largely
relies on inducing the willful evacuation by the residents before a forced
expulsion begins, the exact opposite seems to be happening.
The Gaza Jewish community has now made a list of all vacant housing units and
structures in various states of repair and stages of construction throughout
the region. They found some 260 potential housing units in various stages of
readiness that they hope to make available to those who wish to make Gush Katif
their home. Renovations are already underway.
Datiya Yitzhaki, one of the organizers behind the initiative, called by the
Hebrew acronym Kayla, which stands for Absorption to the Gaza Region, spoke
with Israel National Radio’s today. Weekend Edition today.
‘Our idea is to bring as many people as we can to live in the Gaza region
alongside the residents who have lived here for a long time already and withstood
many harsh conditions, in order to strengthen them during this critical time
and deliver a most powerful message to Arik Sharon,’ said Yitzhaki.
According to Yitzhaki, all sorts of accommodations are available in most of
the 21 religious, non-religious and mixed communities throughout the Gaza
coast. ‘Some units are available for rent and are completely furnished. There are
also caravans that are completely empty which we are trying to outfit with
basic furniture and appliances for young couples.’
The influx of new residents, which Kayla expects to fill Gush Katif to
residential capacity, is only part of a two pronged plan to flood Gaza with
idealistic activists. ‘We are talking about two stages,’ said Yitzhaki. ‘The first
stage is the actual absorption of the long list of would-be residents into the
communities that exist today. After Pesach (Passover), however, we will invite
hundreds of thousands of people to come move here and camp out on the beaches,
parks and every empty space around Gush Katif,’ she said.
Yitzhaki brushed off fears of arrest as a factor that would keep people from
flocking to Gush Katif prior to a withdrawal. ‘So far we have a team of over
60 of Israel’s top lawyers supporting our struggle in various ways,’ Yitzhaki
said. ‘They meet regularly to devise legal ways to thwart the plan and they
will be around in the future to advise and help out those with legal
difficulties as well.’
Yitzhaki is aware of the government’s plans to try to prevent people from
joining the residents, but believes they can be bypassed with advanced planning. ‘
We are quickly trying to get as many people as we can to officially change
their addresses to Gush Katif, because unfortunately, the government is trying
to block the possibility of people moving here, even though no part of the
disengagement plan bans people from moving here now.’
Those wishing to make the move should move fast, though. ‘Every day counts ‘
the sooner people decide to come here the more likely they will be allowed to
enter,’ Yitzhaki said.
Yitzhaki says the drive to populate the communities is not just aimed at
thwarting the expulsion of Gaza’a Jewish communities this summer. ‘We are looking
for families and young people to move here because we are looking past the
disengagement toward families who will fall in love with our beautiful part of
the Land of Israel and stay with us after this plan fails.’
Israel National Radio’s Tamar Yonah asked Yitzhaki what ‘people who support
the Jews of Gaza but work in far away cities like Haifa, for example, can do
‘Activism on behalf of the Jews of Gaza is not limited to moving there,’
Yitzhaki said. ‘We have people all across Israel that when we, God forbid, get to
a critical stage, will paralyze the entire country. So if you can’t come to
Gush Katif itself then you can certainly take part in those localized
activities in which the nation of Israel as one will declare that what Ariel Sharon
wants to do is committing suicide for the Jewish future.’
She also said that those interested in donating furnishings for the new
residents, canned goods, or funds can do so through the Women in Green ‘ Women for
Israel’s Tomorrow organization.
Asked by Yonah what Jewish and non-Jewish lovers of Zion outside Israel could
do to help, Yitzhaki said, ‘They can contact us. We had one Christian man who
is a graphic designer who told us he wanted to help out and he has designed
many things for us from his home in America.’
Datiya Yitzhaki can be reached at the office of the Gaza Absorption Center.
In Israel: 08 684 7048
Outside Israel: 972 8 684 7048
Those interested in moving to Gush Katif should send a fax with their name,
ID number, phone number and town preference to:
In Israel: 08 684 5128
Outside Israel: 972 8 684 5128