Israel Resource Review 17th August, 2005


Chomesh Evictee Denied Treatment by Mofaz Suffers Heart Attack
David Bedein

On Thursday, August 11th, our agency accompanied a group of reporters to visit Chomesh, one of the communities in Samaria slated for eviction.

Journalists encountered families who are ready to leave Chomesh yet are surprised and shocked to find themelves trapped in their circumstance.

One such person whom we encountered was Benny Shalom, a 52 year old man who has spent the past 25 years in Chomesh, raising his children and his grandchildren, building a four store home, and developing a successful contracting business.

Benny Shalom described how his business, which engaged the services of Jewish and Arab artisans in Northern Samaria, had collapsed last week, thanks to the government decision to abandon Chomesh, and how the government was not ready to offer him any compensation for the collapse of his business.

Benny Shalom also recounted how the fee offered for his home was the same fee offered for the home of his neighbor, who had a ground floor apartment. Speaking nervously and with great strain, Benny Shalom described his situation to reporters, saying that all he knew was that he was being sent to a hotel in Eilat while the bulldozers would come and destroy his home of a quarter century.

Why a hotel? The much reported story of homes waiting for the people from Chomesh at Kibbutz Yad Hannah was baseless. There are no available homes at Kibbutz Yad Channah. Residents of Chomesh are asked to wait in a hotel in Eilat while mobile homes will be brought to the kibbutz.

Benny Shalom impressed me, as social work practitioner, as someone who needed the help of a mental health worker who could assist him through this horrific process.

Other families under stress also gave that impression.

One man, whose father-in-law has been murdered on the road, described how he had also been offered a hotel room in Eilat, and that when he had appealed to Israel's SELA Disenagagement authority that his job was in Netanya and that he could not maintain his work while being placed in Eilat. The response of the SELA Administrator, Amos Zut, was "Well, for all I care, you can die in Chomesh"

Zut is the former secretary of Kibbutz Yad Channa, which will have some of its debts to the government wiped off, if they eventually absorb the people from Chomesh.

Following the visit in Chomesh, our office asked LEMAN ACHI, an agency which supplies volunteer mental health professionals, if they would dispatch a needs assessment team to visit Chomesh and provide some emergency mental health assistance to the people there. We described Benny Shalom's story as typical of the tension that families are facing.

LEMAN ACHI promptly agreed, and in coordination with the residents, and with their elected representatives, attempted to make an on-sight visit to Chomesh on Monday, August 15th.

Unfortunately, by order of Israel Minister of Defence Shaul Mofaz, Chomesh was closed - also to mental health professionals .

While waiting at the Shavei Shomron junction for three hours, they called Mofaz's office at 03-697-5750.

Mofaz was not willing to allow mental health professionals into Chomesh, and the group was forced to return to Jerusalem.

Having covered intifada activity over the past 17 years, I cannot recall a single instance where the IDF had not allowed medical teams and mental health professionals from entering an Arab village under curfew.

The mental health team of LEMAN ACHI were left no other choice than to interview Benny Shalom and others in Chomesh by phone, with no opportunity to speak with them and treat them in person.

On Tuesday, August 16th, Benny Shalom suffered a heart attack while he was packing his boxes.

Another call was placed to Minister Shaul Mofaz's office. Would they now allow mental health professionals into Chomesh? The answer was still not positive.

It would seem appropriate to call Mofaz and ask him why.

PRESS RELEASE: August 16th 10:00PM


A 52 year old resident of Chomesh described in our press release yesterday as suffering from severe mental strain, has just suffered a massive heart attack whilst packing his boxes to leave his 4-story home and business of 25 years. This successful local businessman had not yet received his promised compensation from the government and had no idea when he would be able to move into a caravan in a plot that is currently an empty field. He was told that he would be housed temporarily in a hotel in Eilat.

A team of social workers from the social services agency, Lemaan Achai, was refused entry to Chomesh yesterday to help the heart attack victim and others to cope with their emotional anguish. Carmi Wisemon, Director of Social Services says, "The writing was on the wall. We did everything we could to get in yesterday and today - speaking to government offices and welfare departments, but no one would take the initiative to let us enter - whoever is responsible is totally nameless and unapproachable. I hold the Government and the Ministry of Defense directly responsible for this preventable tragedy."

For more information, please contact Carmi Wisemon - (02) 999-6267 or (050) 874-0638 or email:

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Israeli Intelligence Estimate:
War With Palestinians in 2006
Middle East News Line Investigation

Israel expects another Palestinian war to erupt by thespring of 2006.

Israeli military sources said Palestinian insurgency groups plan to widen the war from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

They said military intelligence has assessed that Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with support of the PA, would seek to produce and deploy short-range missiles in the West Bank.

On Tuesday, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that a new Palestinian war could erupt against Israel should PA efforts to obtain the rest of the West Bank fail. Zeevi-Farkash said such a war could break out in the spring of 2006.

"We are talking about a ticking bomb," Zeevi-Farkash was quoted as saying in the briefing.

The general told the Knesset panel that Palestinian insurgency groups have been arming themselves and seeking to transfer weapons development and production capabilities from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

Zeevi-Farkash said the focus of Palestinian efforts was in the production of missiles and rockets.

The PA was expected to receive help for any new military campaign from Egypt.

Military sources said Egypt would become the leading military ally of the PA after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz said Egypt would sell the PA heavy weapons and platforms, including armored personnel carriers and anti-tank rockets. Steinitz said Egypt has already sought to export 100 APCs to the PA after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

The committee chairman has opposed Israel's proposal for the deployment of 750 Egyptian commandos along the 12-kilometer Gaza border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Steinitz convened three former leading military commanders who said such a move would mark the end of the demilitarization of the Sinai, a key element in the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

"They see this as a first concession of Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and the start of a slippery slope," Steinitz said of the three generals, who included former air force commander and Defense Ministry director-general David Ivry.

"This could result in an alliance between Egypt and the PA and the supply of weapons to the PA."

In his briefing, Zeevi-Farkash said Iran was steadily advancing toward nuclear weapons.

The intelligence chief Iran would resume uranium enrichment and obtain technical capabilities in this field by the end of 2005.

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