Proposal: Strengthen Communities near Gaza, Sderot
A resolution has been drafted to help strengthen communities under constant rocket fire, the Ministry for Development of the Negev and Galilee announced Friday - just hours after rockets slammed into several southern cities.
According to a press release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee Silvan Shalom (Likud), and Minister of Housing Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), have drafted a proposal "to strengthen existing communities and encourage recruitment and demographic growth" in the Gaza Belt area and in Sderot.
The proposal will include the renovation and construction of public spaces, sports fields, parks, public and cultural institutions and day care centers which will be fortified against ongoing rocket fire.
The Economics and Finance Ministries are also working on the budget for the plan, which - if passed - will see 9.6 million shekel ($2.7 million) allocated for renovating the buildings and a total of 13.5 million shekel ($3.8 million) spent on the project by 2016.
"My office operates year-round for the residents of the Negev and Galilee, and especially these days, during Operation Protective Edge," Shalom stated. "We have been working to restore the communities around Gaza and Sderot, and this plan will push for further rehabilitation and return to normal life in the South."
"I am working together with the Office of the Prime Minister for the provision of benefits and assistance to residents of the South," Ariel added. "The draft resolution is the first step to strengthen settlement and population growth in the area injured, and increase the personal safety of residents returning to their homes."
Ariel added that the communities are "entitled to any financial support required for the damage they have suffered in full, and [should be reimbursed] as quickly as possible."
The announcement surfaces hours after over 20 rockets were fired on the Gaza Belt and Sderot areas.
Earlier this week, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Yair Farjun noted that 60% of residents in communities close to Gaza have fled their homes.
In addition, polls in several Israeli media outlets estimated that up to 80% of Gaza Belt residents have expressed reluctance to return home following the rocket fire, and following diminished trust in the IDF after it withdrew guards from the communities earlier this year.