Missile Attacks Cost Negev Plants NIS 65m Damage Within Days, Say Firms

Yehuda Sharoni: 85% of the 40 biggest plants in the area are hurting from employee absences

Missile attacks have caused companies operating in southern Israel NIS 65 million worth of damage in a matter of days, says the Manufacturers' Association. That figure includes physical damade, proven and projected loss of income, and costs incurred by the workers decamping as the Qassams rain down.

Yehuda Segev, the director general of the Manufacturers' Association, says that 85% of the 40 biggest plants in the area are hurting from employee absences after the barrages of the last week.

In the last two days of last week, 150 workers decamped, Segev said.

"Unless the security situation in the Western Negev improves, the number of workers abandoning their workplaces will skyrocket next week, since additional workers and their families left Sderot this weekend to spend time somewhere safer. They probably won't return to work on Sunday," said Segev.

He added that according to an association survey, 92% of industrial companies in the area have reported that they are unable to hire temporary employees to replace their regular workers who have left. Twenty-five% of the industries have moved their offices to safer regions, and 25% have also said that they have seen a drop in local orders.

Since the middle of 2006, 90% of industries in Sderot and the Western Negev area have reported a drastic decrease in the number of customers, suppliers and service providers who have come to the factories.

"The government is marching confidantly toward the second Winograd Committee report concerning its failures in dealing with the future of industrial areas in Sderot and Sha'ar Hanegev," claimed Segev. The cabinet must define the Sderot and Western Negev region as "confrontation line" areas, as the North was defined during the Second Lebanon War.

This would allow workers in the region to be granted tax breaks. In addition the government must allocate NIS 50 million for protection of the factories to allow the 5,000 employees to work in a safe environment without having to miss work.