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Jewish Agency grants NIS 50 million aid package to south

In wake of summer conflict, students near the Gaza border to receive scholarships; small, medium-sized businesses eligible for loans at special rates

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and IDF GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Shlomo (Sami) Turgeman attend the opening session of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meetings in Kibbutz Nahal Oz. (photo credit: David Shechter)
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and IDF GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Shlomo (Sami) Turgeman attend the opening session of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meetings in Kibbutz Nahal Oz. (photo credit: David Shechter)

The Jewish Agency for Israel has raised a NIS 50 million ($13.2 million) aid package for Israel’s southern residents in an effort to help the area recover from the summer’s 50-day conflict.

The aid package — drawn from donations from Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Kayesod-UIA, and other donors — will go toward scholarships for the 1,300 students living within four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Gaza Strip, amounting to some NIS 5,700 ($1,500) apiece, the organization announced Sunday.

The funds will also be allocated to assist the local small and medium-sized businesses adversely affected by the fighting, offering loans at favorable rates to those located within 40 km (24 miles) of the coastal enclave.

The donations will also go toward rebuilding bomb shelters damaged by rocket fire, assisting immigrants and lone soldiers, and offering grants to the families of residents injured or killed in the summer campaign.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky praised the efforts of international donors saying, “This is a continuation of the Jewish world’s massive outpouring of solidarity with the people of Israel and the residents of the South over the course of the summer.”

“This is the Zionist response to this summer’s events, and it is an expression of our commitment to the residents of southern Israel,” said Sharansky.

International Jewish leaders were convening in and around the southern city of Ashkelon Sunday for a three-day long conference focusing on providing philanthropic aid for embattled southern communities.

Over 4,500 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel during the 50-day conflict, causing billions of dollars in damage to both the Israeli and Gazan economies. Approximately 2,100 Gazans (half of them Hamas and other gunmen, according to Israel) and 72 people on the Israeli side were killed in the conflict.

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