$500K to Fortify Synagogues Against Rocket Fire

Deputy Religious Affairs Minister blames Shas for lagging behind in fortifying religious buildings.

Tova Dvorin ,

Eli Ben-Dahan
Eli Ben-Dahan
Flash 90

Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home) has transferred 2 million shekels ($507,895) to synagogues in southern Israel and Gaza Belt communities on Monday, in order to shield religious buildings in the region from incoming rocket fire. 

While touring the front-line communities, Ben-Dahan criticized the negligence of his predecessors in fortifying religious buildings. His findings on the ground prompted the change, after he presented his findings to the government. 

Deputy Minister Rabbi Ben-Dahan stated that "the lack of religious services in a time of emergency is unacceptable, and I have decided to correct the injustice that had been imposed on worshipers because of the connivance of Shas."

Shas controlled the Religious Services Ministry until Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett became Minister of Religious Affairs in 2013. 

The process of shielding religious buildings is to occur in cities, local councils, and regional councils - including Petah Tikva, Kiryat Gat, Sderot, Sdot Negev regional council, Hof Ashkelon regional council and Beer Tuvia regional council.

This process will end the struggle for safe religious services during a national state of emergency, and follows at least one rocket attack which directly struck a synagogue in Ashdod in August during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. 

Following the war, several programs were undertaken to strengthen communities in the hardest-hit areas, including the Gaza Belt and the Eshkol region.

One 1.3 Billion shekel ($328 million) program was instituted in August as part of a five-year plan to strengthen the communities economically. Another plan saw 13.5 million shekel ($3.4 million) allocated to build fortified public buildings - particularly educational and municipal centers - in those areas. However, neither program covered synagogues and religious centers.