Fresh off Israel’s latest refusal to erase Hamas from the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Monday he would placate residents of the Gaza Belt region with an NIS 1.5 billion emergency aid package to help the region recover from Operation Protective Edge.
The relief plan applies only to the areas immediately adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Residents of Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod and other cities that sustained near-constant Palestinian rocket fire during the 50 day war slammed the decision, saying the government has abandoned them to deal with the rocket threat alone.
Speaking at the beginning of a government cabinet meeting in Ashkelon, Netanyahu promised to table a similar plan next month for cities farther away from the Gaza border.
“Within a month we will bring forward a similar package to develop the towns and cities of the south,” Netanyahu said. “The appropriate Zionist answer to our enemies is not just to overcome them in any battle, but also to develop our towns.”
Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni told Channel 10 his city needs immediate aid to help local businesses recover from the conflict, and warned that many businesses in the town were moving towards bankruptcy “within two weeks or a month’ if they don’t get help.
In order to pay for the war, which coast approximately his 9 billion, Netanyahu also announced a 2 percent budget cuts to a variety of government ministries, including the education ministry (NIS 695 million cut) and the transportation ministry (NIS 247 million cut).