"The State of Israel has failed in its treatment of the evacuees," the state commission of inquiry report examining Israel's rehabilitation of the 9,000 people who were evicted from their homes as part of the disengagement from Gaza and part of the northern West Bank determined. The committee, chaired by retired Judge Eliyahu Matza, filed its report with Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.
"Five years following the evacuation and a very grim picture emerges on the ground," the report concluded. "Most of the evacuees still reside in temporary trailer parks; the construction of most of the permanent residential buildings has yet to commence; the vast majority of the public buildings have yet to be built; the unemployment rate among the evacuees is double that of the general public; some of the evacuees' financial state is dire and there are those who are in need of welfare support; there are those who still hold legal battles opposite the State regarding the amount of compensation."
The committee has therefore reached the conclusion that "the rehabilitation of the evacuees is far from complete."
The nearly 500-page report holds the State responsible for the situation, but also blames the evacuees themselves for their state. It has been determined that the State has failed in implementing the view that the evacuees' rehabilitation should be considered "an urgent national task" and has neglected working for rehabilitation on the communal level.
The evacuees, on their part, were found less than cooperative with the authorities, having exaggerated demands and avoiding any independent action in helping themselves.
One of the few positive points outlined in the report pertains to a "significant change" since the release of the committee's interim report last September. The commission stated that the interim report had "a dramatic effect on the promotion of the government's treatment of the evacuees and inspiring many evacuees to make decisions and work for their own rehabilitation."
The report also praises Prime Minister's Office Director Eyal Gabay for showing active involvement.
The report gives the government a deadline for completing the relocation of evacuees to permanent residential buildings, at least in most of the communities, for the end of 2011. It also demands the government set a rigid timetable for the completion of tasks by all relevant parties within a period of three months at the most.
Upon submitting the report to Rivlin, Judge Matza stressed the importance of the fact that the unemployment rate among the evacuees is nearly double that of the general population.
Topping the list of failures is the government's neglect to define the importance of the mission. The report points to a significant gap between the government leaders' rhetoric and the State's actual performance.
The State has thus far spent NIS 7 billion ($1.82 billion) in supporting the evacuees, however only a little more than half the sum – NIS 3.8 billion (roughly $ 1 billion) – has been allocated by law.
Another NIS 3.2 billion have been spent following executive decisions and separate agreements.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the committee members on Tuesday that he will continue working intensively in order to implement the report's recommendations and complete the government's commitments.
"Our goal is to get each and every one of the evacuees to their permanent residence – that is our obligation as a government. As the report indicates, the current government led by me has worked and will continue to work for an end to the refugees' current status."
The Gush Katif Settlers' Committee, which is scheduled to call a press conference later on Tuesday, stated that "everything that has been claimed regarding government evaluations, execution, legislation and decisions in the past five years has been exposed in the report as a complete failure. We call on the Netanyahu government to accept the committee's fierce criticism and pledge that by 2011 no evacuee will reside in a caravan any longer and that the injustice caused to the farmers and business owners will be mended."
Aviad Glickman, Ronen Medzini and Shmulik Grossman contributed to this report