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Jewish National Fund Responds Again
for Gaza Evacuees

 

February 15, 2007 -- New York, NY --Ground was broken and foundation laid at two new communities in the Negev Desert established for Gaza evacuees.

 

Halutzit 1 and Halutzit 4, located in the Halutza Sands in the southwest Negev on the Egyptian border, are being set up with the help of Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF-KKL) and will become home to 3,500 people from the Gush Katif communities of Atzmona and Netzarim.

 

With these communities, together with another -- Shlomit -- JNF is creating a communal regional structure to absorb Gaza evacuees.

 

Back in June 2005, JNF responded immediately to the Israeli government's request for assistance. Within 48 hours, JNF-KKL’s heavy machinery was at work at Moshav Mavki’im, which borders on Ashkelon’s southern industrial zone. There JNF-KKL created the infrastructure to move people in as soon as possible and set up greenhouses to replace those they left behind.

 

Since then, hundreds of families evacuated from Gaza have already been moved with the help of JNF-KKL and the Or Movement to Shomriya, Haruv, Amatzia, Shekef, Yated, and Yavul in the Negev. Hundreds more will be moved as development of those new communities expands and the families can be accommodated.

 

At Halutzit, KKL bulldozers flattened the land, and infrastructure -- water and sewage pipes, electrical lines, and roads -- is being laid. Ground was already prepared for nearly 100 hothouses that are standing filled with potatoes and organic produce. More than 400 acres have also been cleared for orchards and farming.

 

Each community will have 300 plots, of which 100 will be combined farming and residential; the remaining will be strictly residential. The vision includes the region as a haven for Negev tourism, wine production, agriculture, and solar power.  Preparations for the construction of a highway connecting Be’er Sheva to the Halutza region are underway and, “will make all the difference,” said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

 

“As there is a severe lack of resources, we could never have achieved what we have thus far without the support and intense involvement of JNF-KKL,” said Uri Na’amati, mayor of the Eshkol Regional Council. “The people from Gush Katif, who have experienced the ordeal of leaving their homes, have not given up. Instead, they continue to practice Zionism elsewhere in the Negev. Thanks to JNF-KKL Halutzit is the embodiment of the ethos that our generation absorbed at the feet of our elders: fulfillment, Zionism, solidarity, and initiative.

 

“We regard JNF-KKL as a faithful partner in the vision that has led to the implementation of the project.”

 

“What stands out about the work we have done throughout our century of existence is our ability to focus on the important national missions,” said Ronald S. Lauder, president of JNF of America. “History has seen us respond to security concerns by building security roads, to droughts by building reservoirs, to preserving fragile ecosystems by planting trees and protecting open spaces. Once again we felt we had to provide a real response and act on behalf of the people of Israel. And we did.”

 

Last Tu B’Shevat, about 1,000 trees were planted at Nitzan, the temporary home of nearly 500 families from Gaza. The greening included saplings, mature trees, protected and valuable trees, and plants that had been removed from Gush Katif. Among these were trees that had been planted in memory of the fallen taken from the private gardens of bereaved families. Additionally, at the time of the evacuation, a group of trees from each settlement was relocated and stored for safekeeping until new communities are created. Some were planted this Tu B'Shevat.

 

“It is gratifying to be able to help were it is needed most,” said Lauder. “Thanks to Blueprint Negev, our vision of developing the Negev into a hospitable environment that will become home to an additional 250,000 people over the next five years, infrastructure and plans were already in place, so we were able to step up immediately. But there is more to be done. There’s always more. We need to do more and we need more people to join us in this mission.”

 

Captions: Top: Halutzit 1 and 4 are the new communities in the Negev Desert being built with the assistance of JNF-KKL for 600 families who were evacuted from Gaza.

 

Middle: Hothouses are already brimming with produce.

 

 

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Jewish National Fund is a non-profit organization founded in 1901 to serve as caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners—Jewish people everywhere. Over the past century, JNF has planted over 240 million trees, built over 180 reservoirs and dams, developed over 250,000 acres of land, created more than 1,000 parks, provided the infrastructure for 1,000 communities and educated students around the world about Israel and the environment. Today, JNF is restoring northern Israel, making it home again to its residents, and is putting its century of experience to work with Blueprint Negev, supporting Israel’s newest generation of pioneers in developing the Negev Desert, Israel’s last frontier.  For more information on JNF or to plant trees in Israel, call 800-542-TREE (8733) or visit www.jnf.org/trees  To contact your local office, please call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.

 

 

To support JNF’s efforts, send your donation to JNF.

RVC Attn: Gaza evacuees
78 Randall Ave
Rockville Centre, NY 11570

 

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