REPORT: Israeli Government Mishandled Gush Katif Evacuees

(Yeshiva World) The government “failed in its handling of the Gush Katif settlers,” according to a final report released by the Mazza inquiry into the resettlement of the former Gaza Strip settlers on Tuesday.

The findings showed that the government had expected most evacuees to accept compensation and was taken by surprise when 85 percent of the evacuees elected to relocate as a community. However, the commission of inquiry found that the government was inadequately prepared to resettle whole communities, resulting in mishandling of the evacuees.

About 1,900 families from 21 Gaza settlements and four in northern Samaria were evacuated during Disengagement in August 2005.

The report went on to say that the settlers had subsequently “become refugees in their own country” and “faced major bureaucratic hurdles” in rebuilding their lives.

Five years after the evacuation, unemployment levels among the former settlers were found to be twice the national level, and many were still living in temporary accommodations. Public buildings have not been erected for their use, despite the fact that many evacuees have now moved to permanent abodes.

The inquiry found the settlers had contributed to the failures by their mistrust and refusal to properly cooperate with the agency set up to care for them.

The report warned that Israel may face similar resettlement challenges in the future, not just for political reasons but also following natural disasters.

The “State Commission of Inquiry into the Handling by the Authorized Authorities of the Evacuees from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria” was established in 2009 and headed by a retired supreme court justice, Eliahu Mazza.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the members of the commission that he would continue to work intensively in order to implement the recommendations of the report: “Our goal is to bring each one of the evacuees into their permanent homes; this is our obligation as a government. All those involved need to study its conclusions. We will not tolerate foot-dragging.”

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