JNF Wire Report
Building New Housing and Brighter Futures
in the Gaza Border Community of Erez
By: Allison Levine
In a meaningful and celebratory event, the cornerstone was laid for the new neighborhood of Kibbutz Erez, a Gaza border community in Southern Israel. In attendance were Israel’s Minister of Construction Yoav Galant, MK Eitan Broshi, Chief Israel Officer for Jewish National Fund (JNF-USA) Eric Michaelson, JNF Vice President for Campaign Ken Segel, and JNF Chief Development Officer Rick Krosnick. In addition, regional officials and local kibbutz leaders as well as current kibbutz members, future residents of the new neighborhood, and local children gathered to mark this auspicious occasion. While growth in any community is cause for celebration, the location of this new neighborhood is significant as Kibbutz Erez sits on Israel’s tense border, facing the Gaza Strip.
“We are here to strengthen Israel’s border communities,” said Minister Galant at the ceremony. “This project in Erez is a remarkable opportunity for growth in this important region.” The new “Olive Neighborhood” will eventually comprise of 30 houses made possible by JNF’s Housing Development Fund, which is also involved in several other residential housing projects in the area. Today, 80% of Israel’s population lives in the center of the country. Looking for a better quality of life, good education options, and affordable housing, young families are relocating to the south, even to communities that sit along the border with Gaza.
Kibbutz Erez, which is part of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, is still mostly an agrarian community—with some manufacturing businesses in the mix—but at the same time, it has a significant role on the frontlines during rocket and other attacks from Gaza. “This is a momentous day for Erez and the area” said MK Broshi. “Even in the face of difficult times on the border, a decision was made to grow. What interests us is not just what has been, but what the future will be.”
“JNF is investing in the strategic security of Israel,” said Segel. “Expanding this community and strengthening this area is a key part of JNF’s Billion Dollar Road Map, and the vital campaign to move 300,000 people to the Galilee and 500,000 to the Negev.” Providing housing options in Southern Israel is key to helping families make the move to the Negev, and the successful launch of JNF’s Housing Development Fund and project in Erez shows that despite the potential dangers involved in living on the Gaza border, families are still coming.