Minister of Industry and Trade Eli Yishai has ordered his director-general to transfer NIS 720,000 immediately, by the end of today, to nine offices that support small businesses in northern Israel and the Gaza area

The money is designated for the offices handling small business affairs in Kiryat Shmona, the western and central Galilee, Beit She'an, Haifa, Nazareth, Beer Sheva and Ashkelon.

Each office will receive NIS 80,000 as a downpayment on further sums due by year-end. The money is to be used to help small businesses on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Situation Room at the Ministry of Industry and Trade receives about 2,000 complaints a day from small businesses in trouble. About half ask how they are supposed to make a living when the army tells them to close down shop.

Some 51% of the letters tell of fear to go to work. Sometimes workers write in, asking what to do when their employer opens up, but they're afraid to leave the house.