Gov't Agency: Cost of Disengaging From Gaza Has Climbed to NIS 20b

Gov't agency: The average family evacuated from Gaza during the 2005 disengagement will end up costing the state NIS 3 million.

The average family evacuated from Gaza during the 2005 disengagement will end up costing the state NIS 3 million, according to Zvia Shimon, the head of the Sela administration in charge of handling the evacuees.

In an interview with TheMarker, Shimon said the figure included the compensation the settlers received, most of which was intended for replacement housing, as well as money for moving expenses and temporary housing. There are also costs involved in purchasing new housing, replacement of farmland and miscellaneous other compensation - and the figures seem to be climbing daily.

These numbers are not final because work has started on the construction of only two of the 24 new permanent settlements for the evacuees. Not a single family has moved into the permanent housing being prepared by the state.

Shimon refuses to give a date for settling the evacuees in permanent housing.

Shimon confirmed that some people helping to relocate the Gaza evacuees feel that the state would have saved money by paying the families the total costs of relocation - instead of it managing the settling of the families in their new homes. But Shimon says keeping the families together in groups according to their former settlements was the right decision.

A total of 4,000 families were evacuated from Gaza. At the beginning of this year, the treasury estimated that the total cost of the disengagement would be NIS 7 billion, including compensation for businesses and infrastructure. However, according to what Shimon has stated, the total cost will exceed NIS 12 billion.

The Sela disengagement administration has a budget of NIS 14 million and employs 90 full-time employees. Shimon says that she is negotiating with the treasury to raise the budget to NIS 20 million.

Over the past two years since the disengagement the state has recognized the need for additional compensation above what was originally budgeted.

The Prime Minister's Office reached an agreement with a lobby of MKs pushing for increased benefits for the evacuees. One example is additional compensation of up to NIS 145,000 for the children of these families, which will cost an estimated NIS 600 million.