The Israeli organization that represents the nearly 9,000 people evacuated from Gaza in 2005 has started a $40 million fundraising effort in the United States for the evacuees’ financial, educational and psychological needs.
The $40 million, to be raised over three years, will fill “the gap” between basic needs and the money that the government has pledged to provide, said Dror Vanunu, international coordinator or the Gush Katif Residents Committee (www.katifund.org; Friends of Gush Katif, P.O.B. 1184, Teaneck, NJ 07666).
A former resident of Neve Dekalim, in the Gush Katif region of southern Gaza where most of the territory’s Jews lived, Vanunu was here last week as part of an initial fundraising tour.
He said the funds will help the displaced Gaza Jews buy new homes, pay for tutoring for their children, help find jobs and provide other crucial help. “It will enable them to go [back] to a normal life soon.”
According to the Gush Katif Residents Committee, 85 percent of the former Gush Katif residents are now living in trailers or other forms of temporary housing in Israel, only 13 percent of the region’s farmers have received new land on which to resume their agricultural careers, and the general unemployment rate among the evacuees is 23 percent.
“We need places to live and work to provide for our families,” Vanunu said. “The people feel betrayed. The government must fulfill its obligation to provide the resources we need to rebuild our communities.”
Many of the evacuees, like Vanunu, live in trailers in the Ashkelon area.
The United Jewish Communities recently announced that it will allocate an additional $715,000 to support former Jewish residents of Gaza and the West Bank.
The fundraising campaign will include mass mailings and missions to Israel under the auspices of the Gush Katif Residents Committee, Vananu said.