Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Battle-weary Israeli towns near Gaza border to get $188 million

The Israeli government approved a special auxiliary budget ‎of 700 million shekels ($188 million) to bolster social resilience in ‎Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip border.‎

The bill, sponsored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calls for the allocation of the funds over the course of 2019-20. It follows meetings between Netanyahu and mayors ‎of the border communities, which have been ‎suffering from Palestinian arson terrorism and sporadic rocket fire for months.
“We will ‎present the government with a plan to strengthen the civilian ‎resilience in the Gaza-vicinity communities. This decision ‎follows meetings I held with the heads of the local authorities there, ‎and the finance and interior ministers,”‎ Netanyahu said ahead of the cabinet meeting.
“We decided to continue the aid program ‎that was introduced to the area over the past few years, and we will ‎invest another NIS 700 million in programs promoting the residents’ ‎welfare. They stand firm and we support them.‎
“The resilience displayed by the residents of the Gaza-vicinity ‎communities is an important component of Israel’s national ‎resilience. This resilience helps me and my colleagues in the ‎government and the cabinet to make the right decisions in the right ‎way and at the right time.”
The bill offers financial incentives for companies ‎to relocate to the area, and boosts ‎education, health and welfare budgets, including budgets for resilience and crisis centers already operating near the volatile border. The overall aim is to bolster the residents’ faltering sense of personal safety. ‎
Funds will also be dedicated to improving agriculture, sewage, ‎transportation and other public infrastructure, and promoting tourism, ‎access to digital services and new construction projects. ‎
The projects will be promoted by the Prime Minister’s ‎Office and by all government ministries. ‎
“According to information provided by the defense establishment ‎and in light of data gathered in 2018, it was concluded that the ‎security threat the communities near the Gaza border face is ‎unique compared to other communities in Israel. The emergency routine ‎in this area requires a unique and different response to the ‎residents’ needs by state and local authorities,” the government decision state.‎
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel told Israel Hayom that “the resilience ‎program is extremely important,” and that “the farmers in the ‎area represent Zionism in 2018, and it was this understanding that ‎led us to strengthen them.”
He said his ministry will promote issues such as increasing ‎the number of foreign workers in agriculture, investing in research-and-development projects, and pursuing other projects ‎to reduce social and economic gaps in southern Israel.

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