Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to ask the cabinet on Sunday to approve an NIS 166 million ($47.6m) economic plan for the southern town of Sderot and other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
The Government Press Office said in a statement that the infusion of funds is intended to “strengthen residents, local authorities and the regional economy in light of the security situation and the difficulties regarding daily life.”
Among the proposed subsidies for residents in the affected areas are a 30% discount in local residential property tax, exemptions from leasing fees, subsidized daycare benefits, investments in infrastructures and local authorities, benefits for industry, agriculture, trade and employment, and expanded medical and social welfare services.
Netanyahu will ask for economic assistance to local authorities amounting to some NIS 8 million ($2.3 million) for the Sderot municipality and NIS 5 million ($1.43 million) for other regional councils, an employment program to attract new working-age Israelis in the area, a 24% discount in local property taxes for industry, trade and services, a 15% increase in the allocation of foreign workers for agriculture, subsidies for new dairy farms and exemptions from Israel Land Authority leasing fees.
In addition, the plan calls for increased psychological and social services for those suffering from shock — especially children — to be expanded at five local community centers. The funds will also expand emergency medical services in the area, including funding additional mobile intensive care units and night switchboards and bolstering the mental health center in Sderot.
The government’s statement noted that similar packages have been passed by the government in each of the past four years, investing a total of some NIS 950 million ($272 million) in the region.
The plan was formulated by a socioeconomic team chaired by Prime Minister’s Office Director General Harel Locker and including representatives from the ministries of finance, interior, Negev and Galilee development, health, economy, welfare, national infrastructures, energy and water, agriculture, and construction and housing.
The security situation on the Gaza periphery returned to the national spotlight last Tuesday after a Defense Ministry civilian employee was killed by sniper fire from Gaza, prompting a retaliatory attack by the Israel Air Force that killed two in the Strip. The day before, a rocket fired from Gaza landed next to a children’s bus stop in southern Israel. Also last week, the IDF deployed an Iron Dome anti-missile battery near Sderot.
Hamas has fired thousands of rockets from Gaza into the south of Israel over the past decade, causing deaths and injuries and disrupting daily life for the affected communities. The IDF has carried out a number of military operations in the Strip, including the 2009 Cast Lead and 2012 Pillar of Defense offensives, designed to halt the rocket fire.