February 6, 2024 — Nearly three-quarters (74.9%) of residents in the Sot Hanegev region on the Gaza border said that prewar security levels will not provide sufficient levels of safety for them to return home, according to a new study by Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) researchers and the Negev Fields Council. 

The survey included 1,128 Gaza border residents, two-thirds (66%) women, 27% men, and 7% who didn’t specify gender. Notably, 84% of the respondents have children in the education system. Prof. (Emeritus) Rami Benbenishty led the survey, with Prof. Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, Prof. Miriam Schiff, and Dr. Ohad Gelber from the Hebrew University Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, in collaboration with Dr. Liraz Cohen-Biton from the Negev Fields Council. 

The consensus is that improvements are crucial in all security areas, especially for local emergency units to have weapons and improved camera surveillance. Respondents also said that additional budgets (56.7%), emotional treatment and support (76%), and education expansion (66%) are factors that will influence their decision to return home.  

The researchers emphasize the need to continue this inclusive process in the coming months, extending it to other southern and northern communities to stay attuned to the challenges faced during the conflict. These findings serve as a foundation for continued collaboration and action in ensuring the well-being and security of the Sdot Hanegev community. 

The survey was conducted via the internet using links distributed by the local leadership between December 14-29, 2023. A total of 1,128 participants took part in the online survey, with 745 (66%) of them being women. Additionally, 84% of the respondents have children in the education system, with half of them having at least three children in the system. While most questions were closed-ended, participants were also given the option to provide free-text responses, leading to a separate report specifically addressing those inputs. The current report is based on the analysis of 1,128 questionnaires. 

Negev Fields Council – Hadar Shuman, Tair Alush & Noah Almasi
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem – Emeritus Prof. Rami Benbenishty, Prof. Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, Prof. Miriam Schiff, and Dr. Ohad Gelber