The evacuees of Kibbutz Kfar Azza are on their way to getting new housing due to an exemption from permit and construction plans for approximately 300 apartments

Deror Avi
A welcome step: The National Council for Planning and Construction has submitted its recommendation to Interior Minister Moshe Arbel to approve an exemption from the usual “red tape” of the required building permits to enable the rapid construction of housing in Kibbutz Ruhama in the Northern Negev for evacuees from Kibbutz Kfar Azza.

Kibbutz Kfar Azza suffered a fatal blow during the Simchat Torah (October 7th) events; tragically, 62 of the residents of the kibbutz were murdered during the Hamas attack, including toddlers and children, and 18 residents were kidnapped to Gaza.

The survivors of the kibbutz community currently live in kibbutz Shafiim in temporary housing where they were evacuated to immediately after the massacre. They are living in dozens of small trailer-style homes which are only 150-260 square ft.

In December 2023, two months after the massacre, the members of Kfar Azza voted that they would return to live in Southern Israel in temporary residences in Kibbutz Ruhama until they could return to Kfar Azza permanently. For that to happen, it is necessary to quickly establish residential complexes for them in the kibbutz. The proposed solution includes the establishment of 2 temporary neighborhoods including up to 300 housing units and supporting infrastructure. First, a temporary western neighborhood will be built including 48 housing units, the renovation of an existing hotel, and shelters will be added. In the second phase, an eastern neighborhood will be established which can become a permanent community in the future, which will include 207 housing units.

The road to an exemption has already been paved legally. A 1965 law was enacted to issue an interim order following the Swords of Iron War. According to this law, the Minister of the Interior has the authority to determine by decree, after consultation with the National Council, to grant exemptions from permits or plans in the case of emergency evacuations due to a special security situation.

This decision will ease the lives of the residents who experienced the worst traumas and loss and in addition were displaced from their homes. Following the decree, the works will be carried out by the Ministry of Construction and Housing.

The chairman of the National Council for Planning and Construction, Rabbi Natan Elnatan, said that “this is another decision that is part of a series of steps promoted by the National Council to find housing solutions, in short timeframes, for evacuees from the surrounding settlements. The national council will continue to provide solutions and remove barriers in the field of planning and construction for issues related to the war.”

“I hope that finding a housing solution for the Kfar Azza evacuees will help them in this difficult time, until they return to their home,” added Rabbi Elnatan.

The Director General of the Planning Administration, Rafi Elmaleh, concluded: “The decision to build residential complexes for Gaza Village evacuees in Kibbutz Ruhama will allow the community to receive services and return to school in the schools in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council, which they left since the war began. I hope that they will be able to return to their home in Kfar Azza soon.”

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