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Photo: Amir Cohen
פירוק מאהל יד מרדכי מתנחלים אלי סיני מפונים
Photo: Amir Cohen
Photo: Amir Cohen
Yad Mordechai tent encampment
Photo: Amir Cohen
Gaza evacuees leave tent encampment
(VIDEO) Former Elei Sinai residents live for almost a year in tents, awaiting long-term housing solution. Now they are forced to temporarily move to Ashkelon. 'It's not easy moving again to a temporary place which I will have to leave again,' one resident says. Some talk about feeling of 'togetherness' that kept them strong throughout a difficult year
VIDEO - After 11 months of living in a tent encampment in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, residents of the evacuated Gaza Strip settlement of Elei Sinai on Thursday evening began disassembling their tents and held a farewell ceremony before moving to yet another temporary housing in Ashkelon.

 

According to the original plan, Elei Sinai evacuees were meant to settle in Kibbutz Palmahim, but after several months of struggle they were no accepted by the majority in Palmahim, and the Disengagement Authority is now looking into other options for them.

 

Saying goodbye to tent encampment (Video: Studio Edi Boy) (צילום: סטודיו אדי בוי)

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A somber mood enveloped the tent encampment when Elei Sinai evacuees, some of whom have already moved to rented apartments, arrived with friends and relatives at the farewell ceremony.

 

Among the attendees were former Disengagement Authority Chairman Yonatan Bassi and his successor Tzvia Shimon. Far right-wing activist Bruch Marzel also arrived, but was asked by the attendees to tone down his presence, and even leave.

 

Eti Peretz, who was busy dismantling the tent encampment with friends from the Golan Heights, told Ynet about difficult feeling: "I feel like I'm being evacuated again from my home. It's definitely not easy for me to move to another temporary place, which I will also have to leave. It's tough living in a tent for whole year when you have children who are soldiers returning from the army," she said.

 

Arik Harpaz, who lost his daughter Liron in a terror attack in Elei Sinai, brought with him a monument in her memory. The monument will be moved to his sister's house in Moshav Ein Habesor. She herself was evacuated in the past from Yamit in the Sinai desert.

 

"For us, this year was a mourning period for the community. We sat together and supported each other. This 'togetherness' gave us plenty of energy to recuperate. It wasn't easy, but this is the healthiest community amongst the evacuated communities," said Harpaz.

 

'I saw a lot of optimism'

 

Hundreds of residents and friends arrived at the farewell ceremony. Sarita Moaz, chairwoman of the tent encampment, was very emotional during the ceremony.

 

"It was a unique year. We have met many good people who help and lent us a hand. They are all friends, also the members of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, who used one hand to vote in favor of the evacuation and the other had to give us a hug."

 

Maoz alos thanked Yonatan Bassi for greatly helping the evacuees.

 

Disengagement Authority Chairperson Tzvia Shimon said that "I saw a lot of optimism among the people. You are an amazing community. You kept together and you deserve the best there is. Unfortunately, the proposed solution was not implemented, and we are looking into other solutions now. We need to try and reach a solution in an organized and quiet way."

 

The ceremony included a presentation of the history of Elei Sinai since it was established. Singer Ariel Zilber, who accompanied the residents in their struggle and lived with them in the months before the evacuation, gave a performance.

 

Zilber, who lives in the community of Matat in the Galilee, said: "My heart is with these friends here, I wanted to be with them. But we are also experiencing war and Katyusha rockets have fallen in our community."

 

During the ceremony Elei Sinai residents stood up one after the other and shared their feelings and their expectations of the new road ahead. Most of them said the community must make an effort to stay united despite the fact that they will be living separately in apartments in Ashkelon and the surrounding areas.

 

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