March 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Evacuated Israelis Begin Returning to Homes Near Gaza

March 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Evacuated Israelis Begin Returning to Homes Near Gaza

Latest Developments

The entire community of roughly 500 evacuees from the Gaza envelope village of Shlomit returned home on February 28, The Times of Israel reported. The religious Zionist village is located just four miles from Gaza. Since Hamas’s October 7 massacre, the village’s residents have lived in a Jerusalem-area hotel, subsidized by the government. Israel authorized residents of evacuated Israeli communities near Gaza to return to their homes on February 22, as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had degraded Hamas’s ability to launch rockets and raids into Israel’s southern communities. Residents of other Gaza envelope communities, including the city of Sderot, have also slowly started returning. The IDF noted that 18 communities within two miles of the Gaza border continued to be at risk of short-range mortar attacks.

Expert Analysis

“The return of Israelis to communities near Gaza is an important milestone in the defeat of Hamas terror threats. In the wake of the October 7 massacre, Israel evacuated numerous border communities and the city of Sderot near Gaza. With Hamas defeated in many parts of Gaza, and rocket fire from Gaza reduced, it is possible for some residents to return. Hamas must continue to be fought in order that it never again poses a threat to Israelis as it did on October 7.” Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

“Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip has decreased significantly since the start of the war, thanks to Israel’s ongoing efforts to dismantle Hamas’s infrastructure and battalions in the northern part of the territory. However, as long as Hamas fighters are still active, including the battalions operating in Rafah, there is still a risk that Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip may come under rocket or mortar attacks.” Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Hundreds of Thousands of Israelis Displaced

According to The Times of Israel, Israel has evacuated a combined total of 120,000 Israelis from the Gaza envelope and Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. The government is now working to incentivize residents to return to Israel’s southern communities by providing them with grants, including approximately NIS 15,000 ($4,000) for single-person households, NIS 38,700 ($10,000) for couples with one child, and up to NIS 62,000 ($17,000) for couples with four children.

Hezbollah Threat Prevents Northern Evacuees From Returning

The IDF’s ground operation in Gaza has been successful in reducing the risk posed by Hamas, but Hezbollah, a larger and better-armed Iran-backed terrorist group, remains entrenched along the border in southern Lebanon. Since October 8, Hezbollah and the IDF have engaged in escalating clashes. Israel’s Ministry of Defense reported on February 1 that Hezbollah attacks in the north have damaged 427 homes since the start of the war.

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said on February 1 that residents of Israel’s northern communities will return only when it is safe. He and other Israeli officials have called on the international community to persuade Hezbollah to move north of Lebanon’s Litani River — as required by UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

Evacuated Israelis May Return to Homes Near Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

As Israel’s southern Sderot evacuees return, questions remain over Gaza border future,” by Seth J. Frantzman

Hezbollah Threats Prevent Israeli Return to Northern Border Communities,” FDD Flash Brief

120,000 Israelis Evacuated Amid Hamas, Hezbollah Threats to Israel,” FDD Flash Brief


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