OC SOUTHERN COMMAND Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky chat at Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
(photo credit: DAVID SHECHTER)
The Jewish Agency for Israel has offered a NIS 25 million aid package to help southern communities recover from this summer’s hostilities, made up of contributions from Diaspora communities.
The financial package entails a series of programs aimed at enabling the communities, particularly those closest to the Gaza Strip, to expand their populations and support a range of nongovernmental groups. This is in addition to NIS 25m. the Jewish Agency extended in aid to residents of the South during the Gaza conflict this summer.
The Jewish world’s support for southern Israel will be at the center of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors’ meetings, taking place this week in Ashkelon and the surrounding area. Hundreds of Diaspora leaders are participating in the gathering, which is being led by Charles Ratner, chairman of the Board of Governors, and the agency’s chairman Natan Sharansky. The gathering had been scheduled to take place in Mexico but was moved to southern Israel as an expression of support for the region’s residents following the war with Hamas.
“This is a continuation of the Jewish world’s massive outpouring of solidarity with the people of Israel and the residents of the South over the course of the summer,” Sharansky said in his opening statement to the board.
“The Jewish Agency built southern Israel, helping the early pioneers establish these towns and communities in the country’s early years.
During the war, we stood with the residents and channeled the solidarity and support of world Jewry. Today, we are partnering with the government of Israel to ensure that this pioneering spirit endures well into the future, drawing ever more people to this area and keeping it strong and vibrant for many years to come. This is the Zionist response to this summer’s events, and it is an expression of our commitment to the residents of southern Israel.”
OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Shlomo “Sami” Turgeman addressed the Board of Governors at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, next to the Gaza Strip, and said: “We are fighting for our homes here.
Your decision to hold the Jewish Agency Board of Governors’ meetings in southern Israel after Operation Protective Edge is a massive source of strength for me personally and for the soldiers under my command.”
The aid package being developed includes scholarships for students, assistance to businesses, grants for victims of rocket attacks, the construction of bomb shelters, and support for new immigrants and lone soldiers.