Gael speaking at the Society and Security Conference.

From the Desk of Gael Grunewald


In normal times, the Rural Growth and Development Division (Chativa LeHityashvut) at the World Zionist Organization is engaged in strengthening rural settlement across Israel. However, beginning on October 7, while continuing its regular work and establishing new communities, it has worked with Gaza Envelope residents evacuated from their homes. 

The Chativa LeHityashvut promptly offered support to community leaders by providing therapeutic assistance. Around 50 professionals were deployed to assist the evacuated communities, aiding them in addressing the tough challenges of displacement, grieving losses, coping with the captivity of friends and family in Gaza, and navigating the uncertain path ahead.

A Hospitable Kibbutz

Chairman of the Chativa LeHityashvut, Gael Grunewald, visited Kibbutz Shefayim, which welcomed the families of Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Together with the Settlement Ministry and the Tekuma Administration, the Chativa LeHityashvut is building a temporary neighborhood in Shefayim for the Kfar Aza evacuees.

This neighborhood allows the families to maintain the communal life that characterized their own kibbutz and helps them strengthen their resilience in the wake of the trauma, pain and atrocities they experienced. During his visit, Gael remarked that, “The fact that Kibbutz Shefayim opened its doors immediately – no questions asked – to welcome the residents of Kfar Aza after the October 7 massacre is a badge of honor for Israeli society. Shefayim enlisted all the resources at its disposal for this mission, embracing the residents of Kfar Aza with the warmest hug they could have wished for.”

Gael visiting Kibbutz Shefayim

From South to North

The evacuees from Nachal Oz arrived at Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek, where the kibbutz immediately provided the evacuees with accommodation until a temporary neighborhood could be created. Immediately following October 7, the Chativa LeHityashvut, together with the Settlement Ministry and the Tekuma Administration, began building a 50-home neighborhood for the evacuees. Within a few months, the Chativa LeHityashvut had the neighborhood in place, from laying the infrastructure to the families actually living in their new homes. According to the plan, the evacuees will stay in Mishmar HaEmek until the war ends and their kibbutz, which was heavily damaged on October 7, is restored.

Building a United Society

As part of the work of establishing new communities, the Chairman of the Chativa LeHityashvut visited the Ramat Negev Regional Authority, met with Mayor Eran Doron, and toured the new village of Shizaf. This is a mixed community of religious and non-religious Jews on the Egyptian border that aims to build connections among Israelis. “Particularly during these times, the establishment of a mixed community is more significant than ever. We see how important it is to live together, despite differences of opinion and lifestyle. We have far more in common than we think and we must take responsibility for building a mature society that knows how to work and live together,” said Gael.

Society and Security Conference

Within the framework of Makor Rishon’s Society and Security Conference, Gael Grunewald lectured on the place of settlement in the current war: “Even if we destroy the whole of Gaza and completely annihilate Hamas, if the communities of the Gaza Envelope have still not returned to flourish again, we will not have won this war. The real victory is strengthening settlement in the south, north and in Judea and Samaria too.”


Gael Grunewald is Chairman of the Rural Growth and Development Division (Chativa LeHityashvut) and Deputy Chairman of the World Zionist Organization.

© 2024 World Mizrachi

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