20 families leave southern kibbutz after Gaza conflict
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20 families leave southern kibbutz after Gaza conflict

After steep decline in Nahal Oz’s population, 3 families move in; dozens visit, express interest in relocating to southern kibbutzim

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

An Israeli soldier walks in the temporarily abandoned Kibbutz Nahal Oz, southern Israel, as Hamas militants in Gaza continue to fire rockets into Israel on the 34rd day of Operation Protective Edge, August 10, 2014. (Photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)
An Israeli soldier walks in the temporarily abandoned Kibbutz Nahal Oz, southern Israel, as Hamas militants in Gaza continue to fire rockets into Israel on the 34rd day of Operation Protective Edge, August 10, 2014. (Photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

Since the Gaza summer conflict, 20 families have left the rocket-battered kibbutz of Nahal Oz, two new families have moved in, and another is in the process of relocating to the Israeli community which saw some of the heaviest fire during the 50-day campaign, Channel 10 reported Tuesday.

Before the operation, the kibbutz was home to some 350 people, such that the departure of 20 families dramatically reduced the southern community’s population.

Meanwhile, dozens of families, primarily from central Israel, have expressed interest in moving to kibbutzim on the southern border, citing considerations of “secular Zionism.”

A tour organized by the Or Movement for the development of the Negev on Tuesday was overwhelmed by the turnout of some 100 families, a coordinator said, many of whom were “young secular families with small children, which isn’t insignificant.”

“I know it’s a little bit scary, but we are so proud of being Israeli,” Ophira Graji of Ma’ale Adumim told the TV station.

Many of the participating families hailed from Ma’ale Adumim, Rishon Lezion, Be’er Ya’akov, Yavne, Ashkelon, and Modiin.

Several of the participants, while noting their interest in the kibbutz, indicated that they were concerned about their safety due to the proximity to the volatile coastal enclave and fears of undetected cross-border tunnels.

“We live in Ashkelon. We’re considering moving further south to improve our quality of life,” Leonardo Kobel said. His wife, Zohar, chimed in: “If I do it, it will be with a heavy heart,” and added jokingly that should they move, “we would need to take a shooting course or something.”

Daniel Tragerman (photo credit: Courtesy)
Daniel Tragerman (photo credit: Courtesy)

Nahal Oz was home to 4-year-old Daniel Tragerman, who was killed on August 22 by a mortar shell. Following his death, his parents said they would not return to the Gaza border kibbutz.

On July 28, a squad of Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel near Nahal Oz and killed five IDF soldiers. Six more soldiers were killed in other attacks launched through the tunnels.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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