A week after the last Israeli settlers left Gaza, the apartment blocks that were supposed to house them are still empty. Many of those evacuated from the coastal strip have rejected the government’s offer of accommodation. “We’ve only managed to sign 60 contracts with settlers for the entire complex, “said Zion Buskila, an official at a site in Ashkelon. “We’ve worked very hard to provide this, and we want them to come and look at these apartments again.” The government has accused some of the 9,000 settlers who left Gaza earlier this month of trying to use ideological arguments for financial gain.
Maya Jacobs from the Disengagement Administration said: “What they are asking for is very expensive plots in the centre of Israel with a view to the ocean, the Mediterranean. They want plots that are worth 200,000 dollars each plus the money that they are supposed to receive as compensation.” Settlers camping on the main road into Ashkelon are demanding guarantees that they can live together in the future.
Arik Harpaz wants a new village where he can lay the headstone from his daughter’s grave. “My government wants to give us hotels, but a hotel isn’t a home. I don’t want to go to a hotel, I want to go to my home,” he said. The Israeli government says it has plans to expand existing villages and build new communities, while each settler family will get around 300,000 euros in compensation.