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Evacuated Gazans still unsettled

Most Gaza Strip evacuees are still in temporary housing more than two years after they were removed.

A study commissioned on behalf of the Knesset lobby for the some 8,000 Gazans evacuated by the Israeli government in the summer of 2005 found that 85 percent of them have yet to be relocated to permanent housing.

The study, which was leaked Tuesday to Israel Radio, further found that approximately one-third of the employable ex-Gazans are out of work and about one-quarter rely on state welfare bodies.

The Israeli government pledged ample compensation payouts and other perks to the evacuated Gazans, many of whom had to be removed forcibly.

But much of the funding has been slow in coming. Some of the ex-Gazans have added logistical challenges to the government’s rehabilitation efforts by insisting on relocating with their original communities.

According to the new study, which was conducted by a former director-general of the finance ministry, delays in addressing the issue of ex-settler rehabilitation has so far cost the government approximately $250 million.

The issue is especially sensitive for the administration of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, given his pledge to withdraw thousands of West Bank residents as part of a future peace deal with the Palestinians.

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