January 20, 2008 / 13 Shevat 5768
Jewish Agency for Israel provides immediate grants to victims of Kassam attacks in Sderot
$17,000 distributed in the last week following increased attacks
The Jewish Agency for Israel is providing immediate financial assistance to victims of Kassam rocket attacks in Sderot, thanks to a recent decision to use funding from the Victims of Terror Fund to assist these residents on an immediate basis.
This emergency assistance is provided by the Jewish Agency's Victims of Terror Fund, which is underwritten by the United Jewish Communities and Keren Hayesod. Last month's decision earmarked $300,000 for emergency assistance to Sderot residents, with the goal of providing initial relief to victims of Kassam attacks, in advance of assistance received from the government.
Since the immediate assistance program started less than a month ago, the Jewish Agency has awarded over $20,000 in grants to families affected by Kassam attacks. With the recent deterioration of the security situation and the bombardment of Sderot with over 200 Kassam rockets, in the last week alone the Jewish Agency awarded nearly $17,000 (from Thursday Jan 10 to Thurs. Jan 17).
"We have people on the ground in Sderot and we were able to award money with 24 to 48 hours -- the quick turnaround time is crucial," said Eli Carmeli, director of the Victims of Terror Fund. The people who are eligible for immediate assistance are those who are physically injured by a Kassam or whose house suffered a direct hit. Carmeli explains that the money is used for immediate needs such as paying for temporary housing, clothes and other incidentals. Most families receive $1,000 in immediate assistance.
This emergency fund started operating in mid-December and has been helping families cope in the days immediately following an attack. On Friday, January 4, shortly before sundown, a Kassam rocket fell right outside the home of Ronit and David Kavsa. The force of the impact cracked the walls of their house and shattered windows. One of the family's five children was in the shower at the time of the attack and pieces of ceramic from the bathtub and sink broke apart, injuring him. The home of Aliza and Pinhas Amar, and their four children, was struck by a Kassam on December 13, the rocket landing directly in the kitchen, injuring Aliza in the leg. The family is now living in temporary housing in Ashkelon until their home is repaired. Both families received financial assistance from the Jewish Agency fund to help cover the cost of immediate expenses following the attacks.
"We are dealing often with lower income families in a depressed economic environment, who don't have the means to cover immediate expenses they incur as a result of an attack on their home," said Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski. "I told the people of Sderot that we would be at their side when they are under attack. The whole of world Jewry is united behind them. Just as we did in the North during the war in Lebanon, the Jewish Agency and our partners are standing at their side in times of crisis."
The Victims of Terror Fund, originally established in 2002, has granted some $25 million in assistance to terror victims -- from victims of suicide bombings to those residents of Israel's North affected by Hezbollah rocket attacks during the Second Lebanon War.