Thursday, July 22, 2010

History and Me - Lachish 3

At the beginning of the new State of Israel, Lachish was desolate and Arabs infiltrated from Gaza through the region. It was partially awakened in 1955 by the founding of 15 moshavim and one village. Jewish immigrants of North Africa and Arab countries were settled there to plow and plant large luxurious fields of colorful flowers and delicious grapes.
Although 15 moshavim dot Lachish's 500,000 dunams (about 193 sq. miles, 500 sq. kilometers, or 125,000 acres), it is sparsely populated with only 7,500 residents (less than my home town of Efrat alone).
But Lachish is bursting forth with life once again. Jews were expelled from Lachish 2700 years ago, and now expelled Jews are returning there. Tractors and plows are preparing the land, and workers are scrambling across its hills building homes and public structures for the expelled Jews from Gush Katif.
Five years ago to the day of this writing, 1850 families, approximately 10,000 Jews were taken by force from their homes in Jewish Gaza and brought to hotel rooms, caravans, rejected apartment buildings, and caravilla refugee sites. For five years they have suffered degradation, unemployment, underemployment, bureaucracy, illness, divorce, heartbreak, drugs, evils of society that they had never known in their paradise-like existence on the sands of Gaza.
Now finally some of the communities are in the first stages of being reborn – infrastructure has been completed in six towns, construction of the first houses has begun in nine locations. In five locations nothing has yet commenced.
Lachish is one of the regions where infrastructure has begun at one site, and nothing has moved at another.
Ultimately, according to Friends of Gush Katif, the new communities of Bnei Dekalim, Neta, Amatzia and Shomriya will bring 1,000 families to the Lachish area, IY"H, many of them from former Gush Katif communities.
Last year, my family and I attended the ground breaking of the new Bnei Dekalim town. Thousands of people attended, all eager to wish our GK friends a speedy uneventful building process. Lachish will be a tapestry of GK towns. Families of Tel Katifa and Neve Dekalim are making the Lachish town of Shekef their home. Mirsham/Neta will be the home of expelled families from Kfar Darom and Tel Katifa. Neve Dekalim refugees are full-speed ahead building Bnei Dekalim. Plans call for 500 families there. A new community Kerem Ami will a mixed secular religious town with 220 families one day, IY"H.
Bnei Dekalim, the most advanced, will live in concert with nature, and add green values on to its orange ones.
Lachish will live again in vibrancy and passion. Jews will bring enthusiasm and dedication to their national mission. And the Assyrians, where are they? Dust and a sign at a museum.

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