(Elron Zabatani/TPS) Elron Zabatani/TPS

Despite hundreds of rockets launched at Israel’s Gaza-belt region over the past year, Israelis remain undeterred, moving to southern communities in increasing numbers, according to a report by the Or Movement.

By Arye Green

A report based on data collected by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) indicates internal migration of some 37,200 people to the south of the country in 2018, a sharp 36% increase over the previous year.

The report analyzed internal migration to and from Israel’s southern region and found that the south gained a total of 800 people from migration last year, compared to an accumulative negative migration of 4,000 residents between 2014 and 2017.

The numbers are particularly surprising, considering the challenging year the southern residents suffered in 2018, with periodic riots along the Gaza border, incendiary balloons setting fire to farmland, and hundreds of rockets fired at them from Gaza.

According to the data, after Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the south suffered a negative net migration of 2,100 people. In the following years the negative trend weakened – in 2015 some 1,600 people left the south, in 2016 the southern net loss was 400 residents, and in 2017 the net loss was down to 300 people.

The positive net migration in 2018 therefore represents a reversal of a trend that has persisted for four years. Remarkably, the transition from negative to positive net migration occurred during a particularly difficult year for southern residents in terms of security, following several years of relative quiet in the region.

Ronny Palmer, CEO and founder of the Or Movement, said the data showing a trend of positive net migration to the south is very encouraging.

“It is possible to draw encouragement from the trend that is emerging in 2018, of people returning to live down south, despite the heightened tensions with Gaza. This demonstrates that the public wants to strengthen its connection to the south, particularly during hard times,” he said.

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