Factories closed in Upper Galilee [pg. 17]

Production at all industrial facilities in the Upper Galilee has been stalled since Thursday with only the most urgent maintenance work still being carried out. "We would like a better working relationship with the Homefront Command so we can plan further work and reduce the damage that has already begun to be caused to industrial facilities in the region," said said Achikam Barlevy, director-general of the Company for the Development of the Galilee. "We also expect that, immediately with the end of fire, we will sit together with Property Tax representatives to reach simple and quick arrangements for compensating indirect damage caused to industrialists in the North." Millions of shekels have already been lost across the Galilee, he said, adding that industrialists supported the government's efforts to bring security to the region. A state of emergency must be declared in the North to allow for the provision of immediate government assistance for agriculturalists, industrialists, and the tourism sector, he said. "But until now the government has avoided making such a declaration and, additionally, messages regarding work or avoiding work are not clear. Most factories are not risking it and are sending workers home but it is not clear where wages will be paid from," Barlevy added. Manufacturers Association of Israel President Shraga Brosh said Sunday that factories suffering losses due to Hizbullah rocket attacks on the region must receive tax breaks and compensation. All towns in the North should be defined as "border communities" to benefit from the breaks, and updates should be made if the situation drags on, he said, calling on the government to ensure that harm to workers and facilities would be minimal and short-term. The Israel Tax Authority said no additional interest or fines would be charged for late value-added tax (VAT) payments or income tax advances in the North, extending a break given to residents of areas affected by Palestinian Kassam rocket fire. Reservists called up for duty must individually contact the tax office handling their file to prevent orders to forcibly collect the debt, the tax authority said.