The Olmert regime-sponsored abuse, discrimination and persecution of former Gush Katif residents continues over 2 1/2 years after the expulsion. This time, it’s the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council attempting to seize the bank accounts of 500 families living in Nitzan for non-payment of property taxes regarding “temporary residential structures… exempt from property taxes all over the country.”
Gush Katif Residents Again Under the Gun, by Hillel Fendel (Israel National News)
The latest chapter in the ongoing tribulations of the former residents of Gush Katif is this: The bank accounts of some 500 families are liable to be cracked open by the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, in lieu of unpaid – and unfairly demanded, the residents say – property taxes.
The story began in the summer of 2005, when over 1,650 families living in Gush Katif were made homeless under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral disengagement withdrawal plan from Gaza. The Knesset had passed an Evacuation/Compensation law several months earlier, attempting to guarantee fair compensation for the families’ losses.
The law’s goals were not met.
“We are dealing with a government and an administration [the government’s Aid to the Uprooted Administration, known as SELA – ed.] that are accustomed to not fulfilling their word,” says Laurence Beziz, formerly of Gush Katif who now works on behalf of the expelled residents in the Gush Katif Committee. She and her family, together with some 500 other families, are being housed in the temporary town of Nitzan, just north of Ashkelon, in pre-fab houses they bitterly call “caravillas.”
“It’s true that for many of us, the property tax they want us to pay [here in Nitzan] is not totally beyond our means,” Ms. Beziz told Arutz-7. “But for many of us, it is! There are those who still have no jobs and have not received compensation for their businesses and farms, and who don’t have food in their refrigerators. We have to stand together – especially when dealing with a body that simply doesn’t fulfill its word.”
The property tax issue was not a problem in 2006, when the Regional Council waived the charge. In January 2007, however, the tax was instated – but the residents did not pay. “We admit that we receive services, and we admit that they offered us a possible 50% discount,” Beziz said. “But the point is more that temporary residential structures such as ours are exempt from property taxes all over the country, and there is no reason why we should have to pay. Moreover, this entire area is not zoned for residential use; all that happened is that [Ariel] Sharon came here one day and gave the order to build temporary homes on this agricultural land – but when we leave, it will revert to its original agricultural use.”
“In any event, we have now received letters saying that they plan to break into our bank accounts in order to take the property tax,” Beziz said.
Encouraged by the Good
With all the bitterness, Beziz doesn’t forget to mention the good: “We are encouraged by the many good things that are happening – not due to the government, or to the left-wingers who so sweetly told us to ‘Come back home [from Gaza] to Israel’ – but rather due to the orange camp and to our own determination. For instance, the Yeshivat Hesder in N’vei Dekalim has opened its doors in its permanent location in Ashdod, and other Torah institutions from Gush Katif are working strongly for the People of Israel as well.”