Ashkelon, Sderot Residents File 1,000 Damage Claims Over Recent Rocket Attacks

230 Ashkelon buildings damaged in past week; Bar-On presents new compensation regulations.

More than 700 claims for property damage in Sderot and communities bordering the Gaza Strip were filed with the tax authorities in the past week, and another 260 were filed by Ashkelon residents. All resulted from the rocket attacks.

According to tax-authority figures based on the claims, from Saturday through Tuesday, 113 cars and 565 buildings were damaged by Qassam rockets near Gaza. There were also 28 claims for damage to agricultural goods and property.

The Qassams and Grads in Ashkelon damaged at least 30 cars and 230 buildings, but final numbers are not yet in.

Wednesday, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On presented the regulations for compensating Sderot- and Gaza-area businesses for indirect damages. The new regulations, presented to the Knesset Finance Committee, will take effect upon approval by the committee.

The regulations will create three compensation channels for indirect damages to businesses.

The first channel, "the expanded red channel," will provide compensation for real damages, including paying wages for workers who stayed away from their jobs due to the security situation.

The second method, "the first green channel," will compensate for reduced business revenues, though it will offset the sum with the amount of expenses saved. "The second green channel" will compensate for operating losses due to the attacks.

Businesses can choose any of the three methods they wish.

Payment will be made for damages in the Sderot and Gaza areas starting May 16, 2007. On that day, the area was officially declared a border region under attack.

Total compensation allowed for the "green channels" will be NIS 3 million a year, while "red channel" damages, which are actual damages, will be unlimited.

Tax officials said all claims would be handled thoroughly and quickly, and in some cases residents would receive advances on their claims for damages.