Each Gaza Evacuee Family to Receive NIS 1.5-2 Million Total

An average of NIS 1.5-2 million in compensation is expected to be paid to each one of the 1,800 families evacuated from the Gaza Strip, according to data on amounts already paid by the disengagement authority (Sela) and those due to be paid. Also, bill proposals now under discussion in the Knesset are expected to increase the stipend granted to each family by tens of percent.

Most of the compensation monies are allocated for residences, in addition to a grant linked to the length of residence in Gaza and an adaptation stipend. Under this clause, 960 families who lived in Gaza for six years or longer received an average of NIS 1.5 million per family. Another 190 families received compensation of NIS 0.9-1 million each, including families who lived in public housing. A further 200 families, for the most part homeowners who were not actual residents of Gaza, received more than NIS 500,000 each. 270 families who rented residences in Gaza received reduced compensation. Also, those families who owned businesses in Gaza received compensation for their businesses - this category includes mostly farmers, who were compensated for hothouses.

The effective cost the state incurred for the evacuation of families from Gaza, however, was far higher. In addition to direct stipends, the state paid for mobile homes, the land and infrastructure for new settlements and funded the interim residence in hotels during the first weeks following the evacuation. The Finance Ministry estimates that the civilian-related cost the state incurred for the evacuation of Gaza is expected to total NIS 6.5 billion, an average of NIS 3.6 million per family.

The costs are all based on the existing disengagement-compensation law. The Knesset agenda currently includes a number of bill proposals that will substantially increase the compensation to be paid under the existing law. If accepted in their current wording, the bills will increase the cost of evacuation from Gaza by NIS 3 billion or more, doubling the compensation amounts to evacuees and will be equal to a 50 percent increase in the cost to the state per family.

One such bill is that of MK Amnon Cohen (Shas). Cohen's bill includes, among other things, a clause granting Gaza evacuees compensation for evacuating their temporary residences - the mobile homes. Cohen proposes a grant of $20,000 or NIS 112,500 (both amounts appear in the bill) to each family as compensation for evacuating the mobile homes, elaborating that, "This grant will reduce the possibility of some of the families remaining in the temporary sites, whom the state may find it difficult to evacuate."

Yossi Fuchs, an attorney for the Gaza evacuees, responded that, "By January 31, 2007 Sela had paid NIS 2.25 billion, which includes compensation to about 150 business owners from the Erez Industrial zone, as well as payments to employees who earned their living in Gush Katif. The calculation of the total compensation divided by the number of settlers is egregious, since it includes businesses, factories, hothouses, etc. and reflects absolutely nothing about the average compensation received by each family."