- The Washington Times - Monday, June 21, 2004

Gnei Tal, GAZA STRIP — A confrontation has erupted between Jewish settlers in Gaza and families who left their homes but are trying to return to claim compensation under the Israeli government’s plan to evacuate the settlements.

Settlers who have remained in Gaza, enduring years of terrorist attacks, are furious at the returnees, whom they accuse of behaving “like vultures.”

The landlord families who are coming back — and are trying to evict tenants who rented their homes — hope to benefit from payments of up to $450,000 for owner-occupiers under the “disengagement” plan being pushed by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Eran Sternberg, 29, who lives with his four children in a rented villa in Gaza’s Gnei Tal settlement, was telephoned last week by his landlord — who left eight years ago — and asked to leave.

“We are very angry,” Mr. Sternberg said. “Most of us will refuse compensation and fight Sharon over this. Now when people hear they can get a lot of money, they are coming back, and it stinks.”

Mr. Sternberg’s family is among several at the settlement of 400 who have been forced to look for new accommodations.

Their plight has caused outrage among settlers at Gnei Tal and larger settlements nearby.

The government is offering financial incentives to those who leave Gaza voluntarily.

Under Mr. Sharon’s plan, Israel will withdraw troops and Jewish settlers from Gaza by the end of next year. The voluntary evacuation of settlers will begin in August, and the government will make the first compensation payments in November.

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