Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir and Finance Minister Yair Lapid decided to expand the area in which farmers are eligible to receive compensation for damages from the conflict with Hamas.

For the first time, farmers located within 40 km. of the Gazan Strip – rather than within just 7 km. – will be able to claim compensation for both direct and indirect damages to their agricultural assets, Shamir’s office announced on Thursday night.

During November 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense, the Tax Authority said it paid about NIS 40 million in compensation to farmers for indirect damages, such as inability to work, but most of this was limited to farms located within 7 km. of Gaza. Farmers located between 7 and 40 km.

of the Strip were not given a directive to evacuate, and therefore filed a different category of claims, the Tax Authority said.

Farmers are able to file loss claims with the Tax Authority in “green line” and “red line” categories, said Yaron Solomon, head of the Settlement Department and coordinator of the economic, finance, and agriculture committee of the Israel Farmers Union. In the “green line” category, farmers can agree to accept compensation for 10 to 15 percent of their losses without need for proof. Under the “red line” category, which allows farmers to receive greater compensation, they must provide documentation of their losses as well as of their typical income, by means of a lawyer and bank statements, Solomon explained.

A spokesman for Shamir’s office confirmed that under the modified rules, farmers would follow the same procedures.

Shamir praised the fruitful collaboration of the various authorities involved.

“We are grateful to the Tax Authority and to Minister Lapid for their cooperation and recognition of the great importance of continuing regular agricultural activities and making the Gaza perimeter and Negev areas flourish, as part of the ministry’s policy to encourage settlement in the periphery,” Shamir said. “This plan will save unnecessary bureaucracy, expedite procedures and make it easier for farmers when they receive compensation, following the economic damage of the operation.”

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