Gaza Evacuees Living in Villas, but Without Phone and Power

After four years of hardship and temporary living arrangements, Gush Katif family disappointed with new home.

When the Sitons moved into their home, in a new neighborhood just outside Nitzan, two weeks ago they were optimistic. They thought the four years of hardship and temporary living arrangements, that began when they were evacuated from their home in Neveh Dekalim in the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, had finally reached an end.

But to their dismay they soon discovered that their new home had seriously problems: Telephone and Internet connections were not in place; garbage was not collected from outside their house, or anywhere in the still-vacant neighborhood, for that matter; mail was not delivered and water and electricity services were faulty.

"This is a dog's life," Avi Siton, the head of the family, says. "I don't receive mail, garbage isn't collected. If I want to throw out the garbage I have to get in my car and drive to the nearest trash can in Nitzan. There's no access road to my house either. Conditions here are impossible. When my boy comes home from the army he comes back to the house in the dark because the road is not illuminated."

It was the culmination of years of mismanagement on the part of the Disengagement Authority, known as Sela, the Sitons said. When they were evacuated from the Gaza Strip Sela put the Sitons in a hotel for a week and then offered the family of five a 60-square-meter trailer home.

"Even though I wanted to be with my community [which was relocated to the same trailer park], Sela prevented it because of bureaucratic considerations," Siton recalls. Instead, the family opted to rent a 90-square-meter apartment in the nearby city of Ashkelon.

A few years ago Siton agreed to a request by his community to give the empty trailer home to a new divorce, who desperately needed a place to live. Before allowing the man to move into the trailer Siton asked Sela for its permission, which was duly granted. But when Siton went to file the paperwork claiming ownership of his new house near Nitzan last week Sela officials told him he could not submit the forms because he was still in possession of the trailer home.

"I told Sela: 'I should throw [the divorce] into the street?' They replied that it was my problem," Siton said.

In the hour of their crisis the Sitons suddenly grow nostalgic for none other than former prime minister Ariel Sharon, whose administration conceived of and carried out the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. "If he were healthy everything would have been taken care of quickly," Siton said about the politician, who suffered a stroke three years ago and has been comatose ever since.

Siton added: "I don't believe anyone is doing this on purpose but the bureaucracy is breaking us. Maybe I'll go back to living in Ashkelon. [Sela] sit in their offices in Jerusalem and try to solve everything on the phone. I didn't ask for any presents, just don't make things difficult."