Extra Help for Handicapped in Rocket Range

Social workers and soldiers are going house to house to ascertain the needs of elderly and handicapped residents of areas within rocket range from the Gaza Strip.

They are also making sure they have people there to help them, and if necessary, they have been doing their food shopping and other errands.

The project has been underway since Saturday, when the Israel Defense Forces began its assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Although local authorities and the Home Front Command have been making an effort to avoid evacuating people with special needs from their homes, more than 60 people with severe developmental disabilities were evacuated from an institution at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha on the Gaza border and relocated to another institution in Dimona.

Several dozen people with developmental disabilities were moved from Ashkelon to hostels in the center of the country.

The Pensioner Affairs Ministry is sending representatives to check the safety arrangements in the homes of elderly residents in the south, and has set up a hotline (*8840) in five languages to explain the Home Front Command directives, listen to problems and, if necessary, refer them to someone who can help. Hotline workers also make contact between the elderly in the south and families in the center of the country or the north who are willing to host them.

In addition, national service volunteers have been calling the elderly whose names they received from welfare services to ask them if they need help.