Snow as far as the eye can see (illustrative
Snow as far as the eye can see (illustrative Ben Waxman

Deputy Interior Minister Fania Kirschenbaum said Monday that her ministry would distribute NIS 30 million to local authorities to help them recover from the damage caused by the recent winter storm.

“The NIS 30 million will be the first installment of assistance to towns that sustained damage during the storm,” she said during a meeting of the Knesset Interior Committee Monday. “The money will be allocated based on several criteria, including the size of the affected town, its socio-economic situation, and how much damage it sustained.”

The storm that took place at the beginning of December was one of the fiercest to hit Israel in decades, dumping large amounts of snow in Jerusalem, northern Israel, and much of Judea and Samaria. High winds and heavy snowfall downed trees, blocking roads and causing hundreds of millions of shekels of damage to buildings, both private and public. Thousands of cars were damaged by falling branches and trees, and the heavy snowfall itself caused roofs on buildings to cave in.

Private individuals whose properties were damaged have applied to the state for assistance and compensation, but local authorities generally have had to foot the bill for repairs themselves. The money to be allocated will go to allay these costs, Kirschenbaum said. Jerusalem will also receive a share, even though the government has already set up a special fund specifically for the capital.

The ministry said Monday that 42 local authorities and cities sustained damage to public property of NIS 72 million, not including damage to infrastructure, removing trees, and restoring the situation to normal. That figure is likely to rise, the ministry said, because in many smaller towns repairs have only just begun.

Kirschenbaum praised the elected officials in the affected towns, saying that the most important result was that no lives were lost.

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