Justice Min. mulls granting full compensation to evacuees who missed deadline
Monies would be granted only to settlers who did not respond with violence during forced evacuation.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is mulling a proposal under which Gaza settlers who did not leave their homes by the end of the official August 16 deadline but who did not act violently during their evacuation would still benefit from the full compensation offered by the Evacuation-Compensation Law.
The proposal was put forward during the evacuation of the settlements itself. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin he would consider favorably the possibility that the government will amend the Evacuation-Compensation Law, although he was referring to the option of offering all evacuated settlers full compensation, regardless of their behavior.
According to the original terms of the law, any family that did not voluntarily leave their home during the first 48 hours following the start of the disengagement was to lose the right to $30,000 "Negev, Galilee and Nitzanim grant"; personal compensation based on length of residence in the evacuated areas (NIS 4,800 to each family member for every year of residence); compensation for moving expenses (NIS 14,000 to NIS 21,000); and various tax-related compensations.
MKs Benny Alon (National Union) and Eli Yishai (Shas) asked Rivlin at the time to bring the amendment to the law to a Knesset vote, but Rivlin prefered that the government change the law for practical reasons.
Reports of massive looting in GazaThere has been massive looting of property belonging to the Gaza Coast Regional Council by public agencies, nonprofit organizations, individuals and even other local councils, ever since the Gaza settlements were evacuated, the regional council's liquidator charged in a complaint filed with the police on Thursday.
Dozens of computers and trash cans, entire caravans and even lampposts have been looted, attorney Shahar Ben-Ami said in his complaint.
Similar looting has been reported by the Gaza Religious Council and the local councils of three evacuated settlements: Nisanit, Neveh Dekalim and Kadim, which is in the West Bank.
Neveh Dekalim, for instance, lost an entire computer classroom containing more than 30 computers, as well as air conditioners and trash cans.
The Israel Defense Forces has remained in the evacuated settlements to demolish the houses, and is supposed to be preventing looting. In practice, however, so many civilians have been allowed in to help clear belongings out of the houses prior to their demolition that looters have found it easy to slip in under the guise of volunteers assisting in this task.
One person involved in organized looting of the settlements told Haaretz Thursday: "All the equipment is already gone, it's all been liquidated.
Either the tractors destroyed it or we took it away. Anything of value we've already sold, either to contractors, or local councils came and took it. There's nothing left to take; what's left is just the junk."
Asked whether one could buy the regional council's computers, he responded: "The computers are in warehouses, that's not for now. Their time will come ... First we'll finish the evacuation, then we'll sell the computers."
Ben-Ami said that regional council workers who are assisting him have recorded some of the looters' license plates to help the police track them down. He said he has also asked the army to be more careful, both in issuing entry permits to volunteers and in checking cars when they leave the evacuated settlements.
"How is it possible that it is forbidden to enter the [Gaza] Strip, but everyone comes in and removes equipment?" he demanded.
Some of the big items, such as trash cans and lampposts, are thought to have been stolen by other local councils inside Israel, on the theory that the evacuated settlers no longer need this equipment, and it should not be left for the Palestinians.
However, the liquidator is supposed to be selling such items to settle the disbanded regional council's debts. Government ministries are also suspected of having looted certain items, including kindergarten equipment.
The Disengagement Administration Sela said in response that it is not involved in this matter; the evacuated settlements are the defense establishment's responsibility.
The IDF Spokesman said that as soon as the evacuation began, it stepped up security in the Gaza settlements. On Thursday there were more than 20 patrol vehicles and 400 policemen and military policemen permanently stationed there.
"The few incidents of theft are being dealt with severely, and have caused the IDF to make the procedures for entering the settlement bloc more stringent, such that movers and private citizens are not allowed to enter," it added.
Ben-Ami also said that the liquidator would examine all documentation issued by the regional council regarding the size of evacuated settlers' houses, following Haaretz's revelation that the council had inflated the size of some houses to gain the settlers higher compensation.
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