Job center to help SLA veterans

Lebanese soldiers who helped Israel still struggle to get by

By SHARON WROBEL, THE JERUSALEM POST
January 16, 2010 18:36
1 minute read.
Job center to help SLA veterans

jobseekers 88 248. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)



The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry has issued a tender for the establishment of an employment and training center for South Lebanon Army veterans. It hopes to provide job opportunities and raise the standard of living for Israel's former allies.



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"The aim of the center is help former SLA soldiers to join the labor force and attain economic independence," said Benny Pfefferman, head of the research and economics division at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. "The training and employment center will be a onestop center concentrating various services under one roof."



SLA veterans face obstacles that make it difficult to integrate into Israeli society, he said. The aim of the center is to help them and their families, especially women, the disabled and the elderly. It also will help them with housing problems through financing assistance for rentals, Pfefferman said.



The deadline for the receipt of tenders is the beginning of this March.



The South Lebanon Army, a Christian militia, was allied with Israel from 1982-2000 in its fight against Hizbullah and other armed groups. When Israel pulled its forces out of Lebanon in May 2000, the lives of SLA fighters and their families were endangered due to their cooperation with Israel.



Some of them moved to Israel, while others relocated to other countries. Upon arriving in Israel, many of the families encountered various hardships, including high unemployment and poor living conditions.



For years, SLA veterans have felt they have been neglected and are frustrated over government promises to help them. In 2002, the government decided to split the care of SLA veterans between the Defense Ministry and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.



In 2006, the Knesset Finance Committee approved the payment of NIS 40,000 per family to SLA veterans, expressing the state's appreciation for their service to Israel.



Today, 2,541 SLA veterans and their family members live in Israel. The community consists of 670 households, out of which 469, or 70 percent, are under the care of the Immigration Absorption Ministry.



Seventy-five percent (1,213) of SLA veterans and their family members live in the vicinity of Netanya (476), Kiryat Shmona (262), Tiberias (217), Ma'alot-Tarshiha ( 139) and Haifa (119). About 150 SLA families are being helped by the social welfare system.


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