Jewish Agency Raises $13.3M to Rebuild and Expand Southern Israel Communities

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Jewish Agency chairman Natan SharanskyCredit: Moti Milrod

The Jewish Agency has raised 50 million shekels ($13.3 million) from donors to rebuild southern Israel areas that were damaged by the country's conflict with Hamas and enable the communities there to attract more residents.

The Jewish Agency "built southern Israel, helping the early pioneers establish these towns and communities in the country's early years," the agency's chairman of the executive, Natan Sharansky, said in a statement.

He added: "Today, we are partnering with the government of Israel to ensure that this pioneering spirit endures well into the future, drawing ever more people to this area and keeping it strong."

The donors include the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Kayesod-United Israel Appeal and others.

The Monday statement comes during the Sunday-through-Tuesday meeting of the Jewish Agency's board of governors in Ashkelon.

The aid will provide scholarships for students attending local academic institutions to help them pay the rent. It will provide low-interest loans to businesses that were damaged by Hamas's rockets.

The funds will help refurbish private bomb shelters, a project to be coordinated with the Prime Minister's Office and the Defense Ministry.

The Agency funding will assist "various groups, including new immigrants residing in Jewish Agency absorption centers in southern Israel and IDF lone soldiers wounded during Operation Protective Edge," the statement said. Lone soldiers are those who moved to Israel and don't have other family members here.

And the Jewish Agency said its Fund for Victims of Terror has been financially helping people who were hurt and suffered property damage during the seven-week war, which ended August 6 in a cease-fire.