Despite Ongoing War, 70% of Gaza Periphery Residents Have Returned Home

By Yoni Weiss

The remains of the destruction caused by Hamas terrorists when they infiltrated Kibbutz Nirim on Oct. 7, 2023, near the Israeli-Gaza border, as seen on Jan. 21. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Nearly six months following the Oct. 7 terror attack on southern Israel, data from the IDF Home Front Command shows that a significant number of Gaza periphery residents have chosen to return to their homes. Despite the persistent unrest and sporadic rocket fire from Gaza, approximately 70% of affected individuals have made the decision to go back.

Return rates vary considerably among different communities, largely influenced by their proximity to the Gaza Strip. For instance, in Netiv HaAsara, a town directly adjacent to the Gaza fence, only 4.5% of residents have returned. This stands in stark contrast to areas slightly farther from the conflict zone, where return rates are substantially higher. In Yad Mordechai, roughly 60% of residents have returned, while in Karmia and Zikim, the figures hover around 50% and 40% respectively.

Data sourced by Yisrael Hayom reveals that most towns located between 4-7 kilometers from the Strip have seen the return of 75% of residents, including communities like Sderot, Sa’ad and Urim. This suggests a heightened sense of security or perhaps a stronger attachment to their homes among residents in these regions.

Conversely, the majority of residents in fence-adjacent towns that bore the brunt of the attack, such as Nir Oz, Be’eri, and Kfar Aza, continue to reside in temporary accommodations as they await the reconstruction of their homes. The Home Front Command is actively involved in facilitating this process, conducting individualized meetings with community representatives to address security concerns and provide necessary civilian and defense infrastructure for a safe return.

Despite the persistent threat of sporadic rocket fire, the trend of residents returning signifies a cautious yet tangible step toward normalization. The Home Front Command has been forthright about the ongoing risk of conflict but has also sought to reassure communities by highlighting the reduced threat level compared to the situation on Oct. 6.

The decision by communities like Magen and Kerem Shalom to plan returns in April and July respectively underscores the evolving dynamics on the ground, where decisions are made in real-time based on the latest security assessments and regional developments.

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