Arab riots in Shuafat
Arab riots in ShuafatFlash90

After years of ambiguity over whether or not individuals who suffered property losses due to violence associated with the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Knesset Finance Committee on Thursday authorized regulations governing compensation for such damage.

The decision comes on the backdrop of a significant increase in violence and attacks by Arabs against Jews.

The enactment of the regulations, which regulate compensation for property damages on the grounds of “ethnic conflict,” was prompted by the ongoing damage inflicted by rioters and vandals on the Jerusalem light rail, with damages estimated in the millions of shekels.

A recent report by the Shabak (Israel Security Agency or Shin Bet) internal security service revealed that the past several months have seen an explosion in Arab violence in Jerusalem.

According to the statistics, whereas "only" three and seven attempted terror attacks occurred in the city in March and April respectively, May and June saw 22 attacks, while in July and August, the Shabak reported that there were 152 attacks and incidents of terrorism in the city.

Among the incidents that took place in recent weeks were sniper fire at the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, the torching of Jewish vehicles, firebombs hurled at Jewish homes in Abu-Tor, adjacent to the Arab neighborhood of Jebel Mukaber, and numerous incidents of rock-throwing at light rail cars.

On Sunday night, one of the more serious incidents took place, with Arab rioters trying to blow up a gas station in the northeastern neighborhood of French Hill, adjacent to the Arab Shuafat neighborhood.

The severe levels of violence prompted senior security officials - including Jerusalem District Police chief Yossi Pariente and Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch - to visit the area to personally inspect the damage and reassure residents that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.. 

Finance Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) was a guiding force behind the enactment of the new regulations, calling several meetings during the Knesset's summer recess in order to prepare the regulations for enactment. Slomiansky said that he hoped that there would be no need to enact the regulations – that instead of paying to repair damage, the authorities would ensure that the damage did not take place in the first place on infrastructure like the Jerusalem light rail, “which serves the residents of Jerusalem, regardless of who they are,” he said.

Tax Authority Compensation Director Amir Dahan, explained the regulations.

"In recent years there has been a lot of damage to life and property in light of the Arab-Israeli conflict, on both sides. The Property Tax Law was amended in 2006 to add regulations for compensating individuals who were injured based on their ethnic origin," while property compensation was limited to damages from war. The new regulations will allow compensation for property even outside the framework of war, he said. Previously, such compensation was granted only by a special committee which examined each occurrence individually. Under the new regulations, compensation requests will not require committee examination.

According to Shai Somekh of the Justice Ministry, the regulations that were approved are only valid inside the 1949 armistice lines. Damage that occurs as a result of the conflict in Judea and Samaria must be considered by the special committee, he told the Finance Committee.