The government said Tuesday it had invested more than 400 million shekels ($103 million) in a special plan to fix infrastructure and enhance security at Gaza border communities since the war over a year ago.
- Once flourishing, Gaza border communities now virtual ghost towns
- Bastions of the left, kibbutzim are on front lines of war
- Why would anyone live on the Gaza border?
The sum was announced at a meeting one year after the launching of a program to rehabilitate dozens of communities along the Gaza border. The plan, coordinated by the National Emergency Management Authority at the Prime Minister’s Office, was crafted after the July-August war last year — Operation Protective Edge.
In the program, 184 million shekels was invested in roads, sidewalks, lighting, communications, water, sewage and public buildings. Seventy-six million shekels went to improving 450 kilometers of secure roads used by farmers along the border. Fifty-six million shekels went to approach roads and lighting.
Sixty-six million shekels was invested in infrastructure for emergency lighting. Nineteen million shekels went to efforts to bolster morale. Seventeen million shekels went to improving war rooms and operation centers in 35 communities.
Ten million shekels is still earmarked for security-linked afforestation along the border.
The project is expected to end by the end of next year. These sums add on to a separate project worth hundreds of millions of shekels itself.
At Tuesday’s meeting, property tax officials also disclosed the sums for recompensing residents and business owners. This amounted to 1.64 billion shekels for damage during the war, with most of it — 1.51 billion shekels — for indirect damage.
Over 96 percent of the more than 28,000 claims were approved. Meanwhile, 99.7 percent of the direct-damage claims were approved.
“Implementation of this is the best expression of the defense establishment’s commitment to these communities. We already see results on the ground,” said Bezalel Treiber, the deputy director general of the Defense Ministry and acting head of the National Emergency Management Authority.
Tuesday’s meeting was attended by officials of all the partners in the initiative, including the Prime Minister’s Office and the ministries of finance, housing, agriculture, home front defense and development of the Negev and Galilee.
The list also includes the Tax Authority, the National Roads Company, the Jewish National Fund, local councils and the communities themselves.