A bill that would assist residents of Sderot and other communities bordering Gaza, at an annual cost of about NIS 500 million, passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum yesterday.

The bill was submitted by 80 Knesset members, led by Finance Committee chairman Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Shai Hermesh (Kadima). The first reading was approved by 74 Knesset members, and received the support of the government.

Eighty Sderot residents attending the proceedings at the inviatation of the Knesset, burst out in applause during the vote from their places in the gallery.

Under the bill, Sderot and communities located within seven kilometers of the Gaza border fence will be defined as frontline communities. During the years 2007 and 2008, properties and businesses there would receive a 50-percent reduction in property taxes, as they have for the past two years.

In addition, the bill would grant a 25-percent income tax discount, up to a total of NIS 200,000 annually, as in Kiryat Shmona. Free daycare services, professional training courses, and supplementary education would also be offered.