A dispute between the Defense Ministry and western Negev Kibbutz Nirim may lead to a delay in the construction of a security strip for the protection of Israeli communities close to Gaza.
The two sides have yet to reach an agreement on the amount of compensation the kibbutz will receive for handing over agricultural land to the IDF for construction of the strip.
The Defense Ministry decided to construct a security strip in the area surrounding Gaza, which will include two routes: Hoovers A and Hoovers B.
Kibbutz Nirim (Archive Photo: Meir Azoulai)
According to plans, an additional fence will be constructed along the lines of the already-existing fence, thus forming a secure zone between Gaza and Israel.
However, this strip will run through the territory of 13 kibbutzim, and its construction may harm their livelihood, which is based on agriculture work.
On March this year, the kibbutzim appealed to court in order to prevent the army from taking action prior to reaching agreements regarding the land. The agreements were signed after the Ministry had determined the terms of compensation for the kibbutzim.
Each kibbutz located along the strip will be granted financial compensation for its territory according to land value estimated by an appraiser.
Defense Ministry Asset Department Head Arie Lev and his advisors met with kibbutz representatives and were able to reach an agreement with most of them.
However, no agreement was reached with Kibbutz Nirim, after its members were asked to concede NIS 1 million of their compensation funds.
A breach in the fence also endangers Tel-Aviv
To date no Ministry representative has approached the kibbutz, and so while construction of the security strip has already begun in the north and south, it will not be able continue once it reaches Nirim.
The Ministry has claimed that the kibbutz was already compensated for another area, and was therefore asked to give up part of its compensation, Nirim’s attorney Eyal Sudai said.
He adding that the area in question is not connected to the one presently in discussion.
“This fence does not belong to Kibbutz Nirim, but to the people of Israel. A breach of almost 100 kilometers in the fence is dangerous to those living in Tel-Aviv as well,” Sudai said.
Kibbutz General-Secretary Horacio Vinitzky explained, “We were thrown out of the meeting. They started shouting that Kibbutz Nirim will receive even less, and said that if their conditions, which included a NIS 1 million cut from the appraiser’s estimate, are not accepted - there would be no reason for us to keep sitting there. We couldn’t even ask anything. We got up and walked away.”
“We support the pullout, and are now located in the line of dispute... All we ask is that our compensation be calculated on the same basis as for the other kibbutzim. Kibbutz Nirim has been willing to sign the agreement for the past month, and is still willing to do so. The fence can not be left breached,” Vinitzky said.
“There is no justification for making a different agreement with Nirim. As long as there is no agreement there will be no fence, according to a court order,” Sudai said.
The Defense Ministry said in response they were confident they would "reach an agreement which will be acceptable to both sides.”