Kerem Shalom, a kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip targeted during the Hamas terror group’s deadly October 7 onslaught, has agreed to temporarily shift its residents to the small Negev community of Ashalim until at least the end of the school year in July, Hebrew media reported Wednesday.
According to the first-of-a-kind deal with the Tekuma Authority — the body charged with rehabilitating the devastated western Negev — the community’s 144 children will be enrolled in the Ramat HaNegev Regional Council education system, Channel 12 news reported.
The move was agreed to by 90 percent of kibbutz members, the report said.
Kerem Shalom was the site of a fierce battle against the invading terrorists on October 7, when the eight members of the kibbutz’s civilian defense team and an initial group of four soldiers fought off the onslaught.
The battles in the community lasted for hours, with two members of the response team killed along with, ultimately, 12 soldiers. No members of the community were killed.
Displaced residents of communities have been staying in hotels, mainly near the Dead Sea and in Eilat, until interim accommodation can be organized for them for the duration of the war, after which their homes will be rebuilt.
Members of Kibbutz Nir Oz, devastated by Hamas’s massacre, are planning a relocation of its 130 families to the new neighborhood of Carmi Gat in the southern city of Kiryat Gat, the Haaretz daily reported Tuesday.
The community of about 400 people three kilometers from the Gaza border, lost almost half of its population during Hamas’s shock attack. Over 100 residents and some 15 foreign agricultural workers were killed during the onslaught, and about 80 were taken captive, said a military spokesperson.
These statistics mean that Nir Oz is home to about a third of the estimated 243 hostages currently confirmed to be in Gaza.
A group of kibbutz members visited the neighborhood on Sunday in order to arrange the move to the new buildings.
“We understood we have to leave the hotel, and we understood we need three conditions. An hour’s ride from the kibbutz, not on the [Gaza] border, and a place for everyone to be together,” said Eren Shapir, who is married to a kibbutz member.
“It was clear to everyone the question is not what the best place is but what is the place we can immediately move to,” he said, adding the deadline for the move would be the first night of the Jewish festival of lights, Hanukkah, on December 7: “It will be a victory of light over darkness.”
The report noted it would be a major change for the residents, who are used to open spaces and a communal lifestyle, to move into tall apartment buildings in an urban area. Furthermore, several kibbutz members who were employed inside the community were left without jobs after they were forced to flee.
According to the report, the Kiryat Gat municipality has promised to contribute spaces and buildings that the kibbutz can use to resume its communal activities.
Dozens of communities were forced to evacuate amid the outbreak of the war, which began on October 7 when hordes of Hamas terrorists from Gaza invaded Israel, massacring some 1,400 people, most of them civilians, and abducting at least 240 men, women and children, who are being held captive in Gaza. The attack came under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli population centers. Israel has responded with a military campaign and vowed to eradicate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.