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Settlers’ tent cities flooded by rain

Evacuated settlers residing in tent cities suffered flooding, damages
caused by first rains of the year; Meanwhile, solutions to communities delay, PM
fails to give answers to evacuees
Anat Bershkovsky

The evacuated settlers of the Atzmona and Elei Sinai settlements, who have
been living in ‘tent cities’ since the pullout, suffered Wednesday from
flooding, mud and puddles, resulting from the first rains.

Ever since their evacuation from Gush Katif about two months ago, the
settlers of Atzmona have been living in temporary housing facilities, in what they
have named ‘The City of Faith.”

In a site near the southern town of Netivot, the people of Atzmona have put
up tents and improvised structures which, apart from residence, serve them as
a school, a kindergarten, a synagogue, a common dining hall and a playroom.

Fighting the flooding at the Atzmona tent city

The entire compound was flooded Wednesday when the first rains of the season
hit Israel. The water penetrated everywhere, overflowed the single common
bathroom and turned the place into a big puddle of mud.
Residents of the ‘city of faith,’ have however remained loyal to their
community and stayed optimistic.

‘Reinforce the Tent City’

“This morning we encountered a new challenge – the rain. But we are not
afraid of challenges or from the rain,” Noa Shayer, a mother of eleven who
resides in the place, said.

“This is a good trial for us before winter comes. This way we can see what
requires mending and strengthening,” she said.

Meanwhile, the head of the community Zvulun Kalfa met today with government
representatives in Jerusalem to discuss a solution for the temporary
settlement.

Both sides have already agreed that a permanent community will be
established in the Hevel Lachish region, but the construction of such a community may
take up to four years to be completed.

The evacuated settlers are set to move to carravillas until their new houses
are ready, but the allocation of the caravillas (mobile homes) is also being
delayed.

Kalfa said he hopes that the government will realize that the best solution
for ‘The Tent City’ at present is to reinforce it against the rain.
The issue of the “City of Faith” is scheduled to be discussed in a
government debate Thursday.

Surprised by the rain

The people of the Elei Sinai tent city near kibbutz Yad Mordechai have
partly prepared for the rain, but the site suffered damages from the precipitation
which poured during the day.

“We were caught by surprise by the rain, and by the fact that the whole area
has turned into a big puddle of mud,” Sarita Maoz, the community’s
spokeswoman, said.

“In order to prevent damages we started transferring all the small tents
into the big, public tents, but this did not help because the rain penetrated
them as well,” she said.

Maoz said that the community intends to erect a huge ‘hothouse’ over the
complex, in order to prevent water from pouring into the tents.
The people of Elei Sinai approached Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week
with a request to hasten the treatment of their case, but have yet to receive a
reply.

Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report

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