The Expulsion From Gush Katif

Gush Katif Resource to educate and enlighten

Posts Tagged ‘rockets’

Little Shelter from the Storm

Posted by emmalazarus on January 8, 2009

by Michele Chabin
Israel Correspondent for the Jewish Week

Nitzan, Israel – It’s not easy to maintain a sense of humor during a Hamas rocket attack, but for the residents of this “caravilla” park, home to 450 families uprooted from their Gaza settlements in August 2005, it’s either laugh or cry. Often, they find themselves doing both. “We’re sitting in totally unprotected cardboard houses with no bomb shelters, no reinforced safe rooms,” says Rachel Saperstein, at the kitchen table of her simple pre-fab house in Nitzan, located smack dab between the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, both popular Hamas targets. 

Late last week, the Defense Ministry delivered dozens of huge concrete sewage pipes to the community, dubbed them shelters, and placed them in every cul-de-sac. Someone spray-painted “The Home Front Command is always  thinking of you.” That elicited a laugh. So did the term “cylindrical shelters” coined by the ministry. During a brief tour of the “shelters” – one, that serves fervently Orthodox families, has separate entrances for men and women – Saperstein notes that the pipes “won’t withstand a direct hit.” When some reserve soldiers came to see how she and her husband, Moshe, a disabled veteran and terror victim, were coping with the stress of war, “I started laughing through the tears. This is what we’ve been reduced to: a bunch of sewage pipes.”

While all residents of southern Israel have been deeply affected by the war raging between Israel and Hamas, the event has been particularly difficult for Gaza settlers who were forcibly evicted from their homes by the Israeli government. The Israel Trauma Coalition has identified more than 300 families in Nitzan that are in need of psycho-trauma services, according to ITC’s director, Talia Levanon. Established by the UJA-Federation of New York in 2002, ITC is an umbrella organization encompassing 65 organizations, hospitals and government offices. Many of these families, Levanon says, were already receiving ITC counseling before the war started two weeks ago. None of the residents have moved into permanent homes, leading to a sense of displacement and insecurity. Many are unemployed. 
Hagit Yaron, a member of Nitzan’s emergency committee and an ITC team member, says that “overall Nitzan residents are coping pretty well but it’s a very individual thing. There were some people who needed assistance in Gush Katif and they need help now, too.”

This is an extract of an article that appeared in The Jewish Week. To view the full article, click here


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Life-protecting Sewers for Gush Katif Expellees

Posted by emmalazarus on December 31, 2008

By Sara Layah Shomron

Our family lives at the Nitzan caravilla site, halfway between Ashkelon and Ashdod. NO bomb shelters at this Nitzan or any temporary caravilla site. So when the Red Alert siren sounds of incoming rocket(s) – we quickly lay down on the floor and cover our heads as though in an open field (even one of our dogs initially cooperated as he put his paws over his ears) while others squeeze large families under their dining table, or behind a sofa and yet others simply ignore the warning and sit/walk outside.

“Bomb shelters” are being brought in today. One neighborhood already has. It’s comprised of three HUGE sewer pipes about 6ft tall and 12-15 ft long, put together to create one shelter in which one can stand and walk. On each end there’s a cement block covering most of the opening so one is protected from shrapnel. It’s like a hamster’s toy – only BIGGER. Actually my Wisconsin elementary school playground had a couple of these. Kids would squeeze inside during school-time recesses to keep warm from the freezing winter temperatures.
In our cul-de-sac today there was a conversation calmly discussing where to put the concrete sewage pipes in our parking lot. People don’t seem to be panicking (I translate and paraphrase):

Not in front of my house. It will destroy our breeze and view

I have a measuring tape – here- take an end

Put it in front of my house

No put it over there- it’s more in the middle
The government will get us all inside these and seal them closed

We’ve been expelled from our houses, in these caravillas, and now we’re supposed to go into sewers? What’s happening to us?
Does anybody know if these are used?
Have you guys seen the other neighborhood where kids are drawing on them? We should have a contest

You know we’ll have to sleep in street clothes
A neighbor sent their pre-teen daughter to request the sewage pipes be put by her house –they can’t make it in 30 seconds otherwise. And so went the conversation.
Several hours later three HUGE sewer pipes were trucked into our neighborhood. One of the neighbors made it clear to the army officer in charge that they wanted the pipes placed somewhere other than immediately in front of their caravilla. A compromise was reached with the sewage pipes placed a further distance in front of their caravilla. After all, we wouldn’t want the sewage pipes to dislodge, roll, and smash into a caravilla.


Postscript: The siren sounded just a short while ago in the late evening hours. My husband, on the computer wearing earphones, hadn’t heard. Suddenly he noticed me and the girls lying on the floor with our hands protecting our heads. “What are you doing? I didn’t hear a siren – outside to the sewers” said he. We had totally forgotten and made haste. Only four other neighborhood families joined us. We were about to return to our caravillas when we felt another BOOM though heard no siren. Methinks from now on we’ll sleep in our street clothes with a warm jacket in easy reach.
“Even miles away you can be a part of us and together we will write a new page in the history of e Jewish people and the Land of Israel,” Katif Fund

In the US: Make checks payable to

Friends of Gush Katif (501 (c)(3))
PO Box 1184
Teaneck, NJ 07666

In Israel:

Gush Katif Committee
Ahuzat Etrog
P.O.B 450
Israel, 79411

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Out of the Frying Pan – Into the Fire

Posted by emmalazarus on December 30, 2008

By Shifra Shomron

There was a siren. It was loud and alarming and we didn’t know what to do – we had never heard a siren before and anyways, there was nowhere to run. You see, in Gush Katif we had always been warned after the mortars had fallen, not before though at least there our houses were solid cement and cinderblock. In fact, shortly before Disengagement, the Government had even finished reinforcing our ceilings and then we really felt safe in our house from mortars.

But that was then, and now as I heard the siren I did the only thing I could: I dived off my bed (it was nighttime and I was in pajamas) and onto the floor and covered my head with my hands. All the time there was one thought running through my head: ‘this is absurd’. And then the siren stops its wailing, and after a few seconds I heard a muffled BOOM and realized that Ashkelon or Ashdod must have gotten hit. And I prayed that everyone was safe, and knew that thank G-d our Caravilla was still standing. As the missile had fallen, I could return to bed and spend the rest of the night hearing planes flying overhead and wondering if they were indeed planes or missiles.

In short, I was up all night. At one point I turned the lights on and tried knitting to make myself drowsy. It did – but I still couldn’t sleep.

You’d think that after all the years in Gush Katif we’d be used to being bombed. But the bombs weren’t so strong then, and we didn’t feel so defenseless. The Caravillas are plaster, and they are definitely in range. When they were put down the government saved costs and didn’t build them with security rooms, as they’re obliged to do by law to any structure in Israel, by the loophole that these were “temporary” structures.

So now the army is establishing a five meter long cement tube sort of thing in each cul-de-sac. You can stand in them. They won’t protect you from a direct hit, though. We can all run there each time we hear a siren. God, I wish I had the young child’s attitude; they’re drawing on the walls in there with chalk and enjoying the echo.

Shifra Shomron is the author of the historic novel, Grains Of Sand: The Fall Of Neve Dekalim, (Mazo Publishers). “Travel beyond time and beyond location – into my Gush Katif”
Visit Shifra’s website:

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