Gov't offers northern residents respite

Maimon avoids saying "evacuation," prefers several days' "recuperation."

summer camp 298 (photo credit: Clalit Health Services)
summer camp 298
(photo credit: Clalit Health Services)
The government is offering some 20,000 Israelis to leave border towns for several days, a senior official said Tuesday. The government is arranging temporary living quarters farther south, out of range of Hizbullah's thousands of short-range rockets In making the announcement, Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon avoided the word "evacuation," saying instead that the residents were offered to leave the war zone for several days of recuperation. The government will pay for the stay of those leaving the border area. Hundreds of Kiryat Shmona residents will be evacuated this week, in accordance with a decision made by the city's municipality on Monday night. The city was organizing lists of the people who will be evacuated - mainly the elderly, physically disabled, and those people that have not left their shelters since the fighting began 28 days ago. The evacuees are expected to leave on Wednesday, Israel Radio reported. Kiryat Shmona Mayor Chaim Barbibai, like Maimon, specified that the plan was not of evacuation, rather, of "refreshment." The evacuees' destinations had yet to be finalized with the director of the Prime Minister's Office. Until now, residents have made their own arrangements for getting out of the danger zone. In the hard-hit border towns, conditions have become increasingly difficult. Underground bombshelters are cramped and many of those left behind are those too poor to leave. Meanwhile, the Knesset's Finance Committee on Tuesday approved compensation to the tourism and agriculture industries. It was decided that hotel owners would receive 68 percent of their revenue, owners of bed-and-breakfasts would be entitled to 78% of their revenue while farmers on the border would get 100% of their lost income. Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson vowed on Tuesday not to introduce new taxes to cover the cost of war. He did, however, stress that after hostilities subside, the financial priorities would be redefined.