Ministry: Israeli Drivers 'On Their Own' for Protective Windows
For years, residents of Judea and Samaria have been eligible for government-funded protective windows for their personal and work vehicles – but in recent months, many residents who have requested financial aid for the windows have been turned down, and told that if they want protective windows, they have to pay for them out of their own pockets.
The “migun” windows, made out of unbreakable composite materials (plastic and other elements) are installed by one of several authorized auto window firms around the country, with the bill sent to the Defense Ministry, after a driver who is a resident of Judea and Samaria requests the service at the Licensing Bureau. The driver gets an authorization slip, takes it to the glazier, who removes the vehicle's original glass windows and replaces them with the “migun” windows. The driver takes the original windows home, to be placed back on the vehicle when the driver decides to do so.
The “migun” service goes back to the days of the first intifada, when Israeli drivers in Yesha (Judea and Samaria / Yehuda and Shomron) were faced with constant rock attacks by Arabs. Recognizing that a rock could easily injure or kill a driver, the Defense Ministry began encouraging drivers to use the service. While not as common as during the intifada, rock attacks in some parts of Yesha are common enough, and the lives of many drivers have been saved, thanks to the program.
Now, however, the Ministry says it is out of money for the program. In an interview, Yesha resident Avi Barka'i told Arutz Sheva that he set an appointment to swap out the windows on his new car last month, “and after a few days the company called me up to make sure I was going to keep the appointment. But a day before I was scheduled to bring my car to the glazier, I got a message from the Defense Ministry saying that they couldn't pay for the swap. I had no choice but to cancel the appointment,” he said, adding that “they apparently don't realize that this is a matter of life or death. If a driver is hurt, or worse, it will be the responsibility of the Defense Minister.”
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) said that Yesha residents have become a weapon in a budgetary struggle between the Treasury and the Defense Ministry. “We hear this every year from the Defense Ministry, with an ongoing debate on who should pay for the migun. For now, the funds for the program have been frozen, so I and my fellow MKs will have to get involved in this and resolve the issue. The entire program costs NIS 4 million, really just 'small change' compared to the Defense Ministry's budget. This really is ridiculous,” he added.
The Defense Ministry had no comment.
The move came days after a bill that would block terror victims or their relatives from suing the government for damages passed its first reading in the Knesset. In an effort to save money as well, the measure would set a specific amount for a payment on damages, and would block the possibility of seeking more compensation by suing for damages.