70% of southern evacuees are back home, government says, six months after October 7

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Israeli soldiers standing near a mural painted at the site of the Old Sderot Police Station that was attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023, in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, March 11, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers standing near a mural painted at the site of the Old Sderot Police Station that was attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023, in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, March 11, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Six months after the Hamas onslaught on Israel’s south, 70% of the population of the affected area are back home, with only a handful locales remaining uninhabited, the government says.

Of the 57,000 people who had been evacuees from the south as of February 29, at least 40,150 residents — including some 23,000 from Sderot alone — are living in their municipalities situated within 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) of the border, says the Tekuma Authority, the government arm responsible for rehabilitating the south, in a statement marking half a year since the devastating attack.

Some 13 locales, including Be’eri, Kfar Aza, Nir Oz and Kerem Shalom, are either too heavily damaged to be inhabited or deemed by the army to be at too great a risk to be resettled at this time, a rehabilitation official tells The Times of Israel Sunday.

Tekuma has spent roughly NIS 2.25 billion ($600 million) of its budget of NIS 18 billion ($4.7 billion) for rehabilitating the area over the next five years, Tekuma says in its six-month update.

The remaining evacuees are living in state-funded accommodations, including in hotels (6,350 people) and in communities (1.942) including Kiryat Gat, Mishmar Ha’emek and Beersheba.

Another approximately 60,000 evacuees from the north, near the border with Lebanon, are living in similar conditions.

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