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      Cabinet to Approve Benefits to Residents of South

      Prime Minister Netanyahu to submit a 166 million shekel plan for economic benefits for Sderot and the area adjacent to Gaza.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/29/2013, 5:35 AM

      Children run for shelter in Sderot
      Children run for shelter in Sderot
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will on Sunday submit for Cabinet approval a 166 million shekel plan for economic benefits for Sderot and the area adjacent to Gaza.

      The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the goal of the plan is to strengthen residents, local authorities and the regional economy in light of the security situation and the difficulties regarding daily life.

      The 2014 plan includes a series of benefits for residents of the area: Tax benefits, local property tax benefits, exemptions from leasing fees, daycare benefits, investments in infrastructures and local authorities, benefits for industry, agriculture, trade and employment, and expanded medical and social welfare services.

      Among the benefits are 20% tax credits, a 30% discount in local property taxes on residences, subsidized daycare, economic assistance to local authorities (8 million shekels for the Sderot municipality and 5 million shekels for regional councils), an employment track for the absorption of new workers in the area, a 24% discount in local property taxes for industry, trade and services, a 15% preference in the allocation of foreign workers for agriculture, subsidies for new dairy farms and exemptions from Israel Land Authority leasing fees.

      Psychological and social services for those suffering from shock – especially children – will be expanded at five local centers, the PMO said.

      Assistance will be provided for the operation of emergency medical units in the form of increased mobile intensive care units, the operation of night switchboards and bolstering the mental health center in Sderot.

      The Israeli government has made similar decisions in each of the last four years, at an overall investment of approximately 950 million shekels.

      Residents of southern Israel have been for years suffering from rocket attacks carried out by terrorists from Gaza.

      Even though many of the rocket attacks do not result in damages to property or physical injuries, many residents of the affected areas - particularly young children and seniors - have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the incessant attacks.

      Arab terrorism against Israelis has increased in recent days and has included renewed rocket fire into southern Israel.

      The IDF has deployed Iron Dome anti-missile systems in both Be’er Sheva and Sderot in recent days. The anti-missile system can intercept and shoot down rockets before they hit populated areas, and had an 84% success rate in intercepting rockets during last year’s Operation Pillar of Defense.