update deskIsrael at War

27,000 Israeli evacuees from border areas remain in hotels

The number represents a steep drop from the 90,000 Israelis who were sheltered in hotels after Oct. 7 massacre, even as the war against Hamas in Gaza rages on and amid a volatile situation on Israel’s northern border.

Israeli refugees at the King Solomon Hotel in Eilat, Feb. 8, 2024. Photo by Amelie Botbol.
Israeli refugees at the King Solomon Hotel in Eilat, Feb. 8, 2024. Photo by Amelie Botbol.

Six months after the Hamas attack on Israel, 27,000 Israeli evacuees remain in hotels, mostly from communities along Israel’s northern border, the Israeli Tourism Ministry announced on Sunday.

The number represents a steep drop from the more than 90,000 Israelis who were sheltered in hotels after the Oct. 7 massacre, even as the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip rages on and amid a volatile situation on Israel’s northern border.

Of the 27,000 people still housed in hotels, 21,000 are from communities along the northern border, while only 6,000 are from southern Israel, according to the ministry, which has paid the hotels 3.2 billion shekels ($850 million) to house the evacuees to date.

An initiative by Tourism Minister Haim Katz to relocate the evacuees to apartments or other private accommodations during this time with a daily government stipend which it paid out through the National Insurance Institute at a cost of 2 billion shekels ($530 million) saved state coffer’s an additional 2.5 billion shekels ($664 million).

In accordance with a government decision made after the Oct. 7 attack, in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 others abducted to Gaza, a total of 125,000 residents of the south and north of Israel were evacuated during October and November. The original plan would have seen the evacuees housed in public buildings such as student dormitories and schools. As tourists fled Israel this fall with the start of the war, leaving hotel rooms empty, 50,000 hotel rooms were quickly made available to host the evacuees.

Seventy percent of evacuees from Gaza-border towns have since returned home despite ongoing intermittent rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled territory, according to Israeli military figures.

The drop in occupancy among evacuees at hotels nationwide also comes as the ministry is planning for post-war tourism to Israel after a virtual industry collapse over the last six months.

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