A severe shortage of rental apartments, students unable to find a place to live and potential tenants fighting over every last vacant property - No, the latter is not a description of the notorious Tel Aviv real estate market but rather that of the kibbutzim and the moshavim surrounding the Gaza Strip.
Defying conventional logic, the proximity to Gaza and the daily rocket and mortar attacks emenating from there hasn't deterred hundreds of Israeli families from deciding to up and leave the relatively safety of their homes in central Israel and moving into the line of fire.
According to research done by Yedioth Ahronoth, no less than 122 families have chose to move to the “Qassam communities” over the course of the past 12 months, while only a handful of families have decided to leave the region.
“There are no available rooms on any kibbutz or moshav,” said Haim Yellin, head of Eshkol Regional Council.
“There are no rooms on the kibbutzim for the students of Sapir College. People are actually fighting for apartments. Even if people sometimes threaten they will leave, they then stop for a minute, think twice about it and realize that in spite of everything, you can live a very good life here,” he added.
Indeed, the expansion of neighborhoods is only increasing. Netiv Ha'asara, a community frequently targeted by rockets, was forced to declare full occupancy a short while ago, saying it could not absorb any new families.
A group of 40 students from the Sapir College submitted a request to not long ago, suggesting they establish a new community in the region. The major problem is that there are no vacant places.
Director of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council strategic
office, Oded Felot said that every year the Interior Ministry reports an increase in Gaza-vicinity residents.
“Qassams and mortar shells are significant, but they are not everything. Deep in their hearts, people believe that one day this will end,” he said.
Some of the new residents came from even further locations that just Tel Aviv. Twenty years ago, Amit Philips-Tufferman moved from Kibbutz Miflasim to England, a distance of 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) from the Gaza Strip.
But last year, family in tow, she decided to return. Along with husband Nick, Amit packed up the family's various belongings, including nine-year-old son Guy and seven-year-old daughter Kim and moved back to Kibbutz Miflasim, less than 1.5 kilometers (approximately 1 mile) from the border fence.
“This is my home,” Amit explained, “Even if the security situation here is dangerous, I feel like this is the safest place in the world. My children have learned to live with the Qassams.
"Even though it’s scary, and at times I ask myself why I need this in my life, the bottom line is that I am the happiest here. Troubles and dangers can be found anywhere,” she added.