Gaza envelope communities 'relocating'70% of their residents have now fled to safer places.
In contrast to policies in place from the start of Operation Protective Edge until now, Friday’s fatal attack set the Defense Ministry’s National Authority for Emergency Management looking for solutions for families wishing to evacuate the area.
Over the last three days, some 400 families have requested assistance in finding arrangements far away from the border. In contrast to earlier stages of the fighting, such families no longer have to depend on non-governmental agencies or private donations. The state is now committed to financing their stay away from areas at risk.
All sides are careful to note that this does not constitute an evacuation. “This isn’t 1948,” clarified an employee at one local authority. “Don’t label it an evacuation. These are arrangements for living away from home,” said another employee. “We’re not evacuating any community.”
However, semantics cannot hide the fact that most residents living in high-risk areas chose to leave their homes again.
“We were told not to call it an evacuation, only a breather, but we should call a spade a spade. We left the kibbutz since it’s impossible to remain there,” says Yael Stadin, community head at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. Yesterday, with the assistance of the Authority for Emergency Management and the Eshkol Regional Council, most kibbutz members left, moving into a youth hostel in Jerusalem. One family, a mother and two adult daughters, decided at the last minute to stay. A few hours later, a mortar shell landed near their house and one of the daughters suffered slight head injuries.
The change in policy came after pressure from residents, communities and local authorities that had to fend for themselves for over a month and a half. The defense establishment emphasized that as far as the Home Front Command is concerned, there is no change in guidelines, and families have not been instructed to leave their homes. However, anyone wishing to do so gets assistance.The problem is apparently limited to communities that are close enough to be within mortar range. Iron Dome doesn't catch mortars and there are no warning sirens.
An estimated 30 percent of families remain in the Gazan border communities. In more distant communities, outside the range of mortars, some 80 percent of residents remain.
The death of Daniel Tragerman caused many people to make rapid plans for leaving their homes.
But if Jewish communities are abandoned, Hamas will step into the vacuum, as they did when the Jewish communities of Gaza were expelled (the government doesn't like me using that word, but that's the reality) nine years ago.
The events of the last few days have drawn a clear distinction between communities lying within mortar range – up to two kilometers from the border – and all other settlements in the western Negev. In the absence of a technological solution such as Iron Dome, the relatively simple mortar has become Hamas’ most lethal weapon against civilians. Residents living within two kilometers of the border find themselves facing a difficult choice, of either remaining at home in a dangerous environment or uprooting themselves for an unknown duration.
There has been a lot of talk recently about Gaza developing into a 'war of attrition.' There was a war of attrition along Israel's border with Egypt 45 years ago. That war - which lasted from 1968-69 - saw hundreds of casualties. But it was conducted along the Suez Canal. There were few civilians involved.
Given this situation, I don't understand why we're even discussing a cease fire. Hamas must be destroyed.