Court delays compensation decision for Sderot merchants

Sderot merchants will have to wait longer before they can find out how much they will receive from the state for Kassam damages.

Sderot business 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jereozolimksi )
Sderot business 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jereozolimksi )
Sderot merchants will have to wait some more before they can find out how much compensation they will receive from the state for damages they have suffered as a result of terrorist violence in their city, according to a High Court decision handed down Wednesday. The petitioners have been waiting for up to nine months for the court to give a decision of any kind. The court, for its part, has been waiting to see whether the state was making progress in its efforts to come up with a systematic solution to the problems in Sderot and frontier communities in other parts of the country. During Wednesday's hearing, the state informed the court that Finance Minister Roni Bar-On had received and studied the recommendations of a professional committee regarding frontier towns and villages, including Sderot and the rural communities in the Gaza periphery. The state's representative, Gilad Shirman, informed the court that Bar-On had accepted some of the committee's recommendations and rejected others. The document, after being revised, was due to be brought for approval to the Knesset Finance Committee next week, he added. Shirman said Bar-On had rejected the professional committee's recommendation that compensation to Sderot and the nearby rural settlements should be paid retroactive to November 1, 2005. He set the date at May 27, 2007, the day the government declared a "special situation" in Sderot after a particularly heavy Kassam rocket barrage. A Finance Ministry representative also told the court that the ministry would be ready to implement the new regulations within four days of their approval by the Knesset Finance Committee. There was already an office operating in Sderot and a new one was about to open in Ashkelon, he said. Attorney Yossi Pinhas Cohen, who is the Sderot municipal spokesman and the lawyer in one of the petitions, angrily rejected the state's position and demanded that the court immediately grant the petitioners a show-cause order which would force it to reply to the petitioners' demands in a sworn affidavit. He also strongly protested Bar-On's decision to advance the retroactive date by more than a year-and-a-half. Attorney Rami Aryeh, who represents the other group of merchants, told the court that the new regulations submitted by Bar-On would not be heard by the Finance Committee at next Tuesday's scheduled meeting and that there would have to be further negotiations between the committee and Bar-On, which could take a long time. Shmuel Malchiel, the owner of a wedding hall in Sderot, said he has had no work and therefore no income for many months. "No one wants to come near Sderot," he told The Jerusalem Post. When his brother married recently, Malchiel insisted that the wedding be held in Sderot. Of the 500 people invited, only about 200 showed up.