The Welfare and Social Services Ministry allocated NIS 13.65 million for services during Operation Protective Edge, the ministry announced on Wednesday at a conference in Beersheba.

The purpose of the gathering was for officials to provide an extensive summary of activities the ministry and welfare departments in the South undertook during the Gaza war.

Of the funds, some NIS 10.7 m. was allocated in three tranches to municipalities within 40 km. of the Gaza Strip, for emergency use. An additional NIS 1.5m. was allocated in two transfers to provide warm meals on the weekends for the special needs population.

Some NIS 700,000 was allocated to a collaborative project with the Joint Distribution Committee Israel, for community support programs in 14 municipalities in the South, while an additional NIS 700,000 was allocated for relocating families for short stays in hostels out of the line of fire.

“Welfare officials have become the protective edge of the home front and have led the resilience of the home front. Social workers left their homes in order to take care of the elderly, I give them a civilian medal of honor,” Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen said at the conference.

During the operation, Cohen was one of the most visible government figures on the ground in the South, having visited some 26 municipalities and holding meetings with welfare offices in the communities surrounding Gaza.

In addition, he instructed heads of district offices and social services departments in the Center, to visit the southern communities to better understand needs arising in the field.

The ministry opened three situation rooms during the operation, labeled: managing, Southern region, and society and community. These rooms operated emergency hotlines, as well as a telephone hotline instructing the blind what to do during alarms and emergency situations. The ministry also provided manpower and resources, such as volunteers, teachers and emergency kits to residents in the South.

While on the ground, Cohen was outspoken during the conflict regarding the needs of the municipalities and of the importance of welfare services during Operation Protective Edge.

During the conflict, Cohen canceled the ministry’s longstanding matching program to provide additional funds to the municipalities hardest hit during the recent escalation. Until then, the welfare ministry would provide municipalities with 75 percent of the budget for welfare services, while the remaining 25 percent was matched by local authorities.

The decision will see the welfare ministry provide full funding to the communities within 7 km. of Gaza and poor communities within 20 km. of the Strip.

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