sderot business shops.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In a step towards granting the residents and business owners in the besieged Sderot region full compensation for the damage inflicted by the flurry of Kassam attacks over the last few weeks, the Knesset Finance Committee on Wednesday designated the area a " peripheral communtiy," thereby entitling business owners to compensation for indirect damage caused by the attacks.
The new bill, introduced by Finance Committee Chairman MK Stas Misezhnikov and approved by more than 80 Knesset members, entitles businesses in the region to compensation from May 16, the date that the current increase in attacks began, until August 31.
The designation of "peripheral area" is only the first step in ensuring that Sderot's residents are given full compensation for both indirect and direct damage caused by the attacks, and Misezhnikov announced at Wednesday's meeting that in one week the finance committee would begin the process of deciding on the details of the bill and the awarding of full compensation.
"Today, we accomplished something important, however, much still is left to be done," he said after the meeting.
Not everyone was encouraged by the progress, however.
Shraga Brosh, president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, said the Finance Committee's decision was not enough and accused the government of dragging its feet in providing aid to Sderot. "When there is no leadership, decisions aren't made, leaving the factories in the region without protection and without compensation. The result will be the destruction of Sderot's industry - the basis for the city's economic survival," he said.
Brosh added that the region's 5,000 industrial workers in more than 30 factories felt like " hunted ducks," waiting for Kassam rockets to smash through the roofs of their under-protected factories.
Meanwhile, Gavriel Maimon, the director-general of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, met with representatives of small business owners in Sderot Wednesday to hear firsthand about the suffering they are experiencing due to the attacks.
He informed the business owners that beginning on Thursday there would be a business adviser stationed in the ministry's situation room that has been established in Sderot to help the region's business owners evaluate the different assistance options available from the ministry.
Additionally, Maimon met with the assistant director of the Tax Authority in an effort to convince him to allow the embattled region's small- and mid-sized business owners to push off paying income tax and tariffs until June 15.
The ministry also announced that it has passed on to the government a proposal to construct a loan program for Sderot businesses in order to help them recover as quickly as possible from the losses they have incurred.
On Tuesday, Yoram Ariav, the director-general of the Finance Ministry, said he would form a committee to set up a compensation model for the affected businesses in the Sderot region. Included in the committee would be representatives from both the Tax Authority and its budgeting office.