kassam damage 88 248.
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As Operation Cast Lead enters its second week, the Israel Tax Authority's preliminary estimate of property damage caused by Hamas rocket attacks is at least NIS 15 million.
"It is too early to provide accurate numbers since we are still in the process of assessing the damages on the ground," Israel Tax Authority spokeswoman Idit Zerahia told The Jerusalem Post Sunday.
On Sunday, the Israel Tax Authority reported 627 claims since the operation started December 27, a number almost certain to rise as the offensive intensifies. More than 390 claims are related to property damage caused by rocket attacks.
Some 20 families whose homes have been severely damaged have been transferred to hotels in Beersheba, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv and Netanya. About 94 of the claims are related to car damages and 18 to agriculture damages.
The government will have to find the funds to compensate dozens of homeowners whose property has been affected.
Damage suffered by factories and businesses in the South has yet to be assessed. At the end of last week, the Finance Ministry came to an agreement with the Manufacturers Association and the Histadrut Labor Federation to formulate a compensation package for business owners over the next few days, as it did after the Second Lebanon War.
Since the first Kassam rocket hit in the South some eight years ago, factories have suffered direct and indirect damages estimated at NIS 100m., according to the association. These include direct losses from hits and indirect damage from lost orders, revenues, customers and workers.
IDF Home Front Command has instructed all businesses to be closed unless they are an "essential business" or are sufficiently fortified, which the majority of small businesses are not.
Home Front Command has issued stricter work guidelines for factories and businesses located within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip. According to the guidelines, work will only be permitted in enterprises with air raid shelters or protected rooms. The area included in the orders includes Beersheba, Ashdod, Yavne and Gedera.
Nearly all Israeli factories within striking distance of Palestinian rockets remained opened on the eighth day of the army's offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to the Manufacturers Association of Israel.
In the manufacturing centers of Beersheba, Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat all plants were operating and about 90 percent of employees reported for work, the association said.
"Factories that are operating, as well as those reporting they are operating partially, say output is being hurt by repeated sirens and alerts, which is cutting production," Arnon Kashansky, director of the Manufacturers Association's southern district said Sunday. No factories have been hit since the offensive began, he said.
On Sunday, the daily survey on the employment situation in the South conducted by the association showed that 2,000 out of 5,000 factory workers in Sderot came to work. In Beersheba, where all factories were operating, 11,400 employees out of 12,000, or 95%, came to work. In Kiryat Gat, 7,600 out of 8,000 workers, or 95%, came to work. In Netivot, 1,050 out of 1,100 employees, or 85%, came to work.
Between December 28 and January 2, an average of 50%, or 2,500 out of 5,000 workers, in Sderot came to work. In Ashkelon, an average of 4,000, or 80%, of employees in factories with air raid shelters came to work; in factories without protected rooms about 1,200, or 40%, of workers came to work. Industrial factories employ 7,000 workers in Ashkelon.
In Netivot, an average of 900 out of 1,100, or 80%, of employees came to work in the first week of the operation. In Ofakim, about 1,400 out of 1,500, or 95%, of workers came to work.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.