The Israeli Cabinet approved on Thursday the allocation of 1.6 billion shekels ($440 million) to strengthen the southern city of Sderot, adjacent to the Gaza Strip ruled by the Hamas terror group.
During a rare Cabinet meeting convened outside of Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touted his previous governments’ accomplishments in developing the city and its surroundings, and vowed to do more to support communities constantly targeted by Palestinian rocket fire.
“First of all, we have developed transportation. We opened a train station in Sderot and have linked the area around the Gaza Strip to the center of the country, and the center of the country to the area around the Gaza Strip. We extended the railway line to Beersheva, and we improved it,” he said.
Netanyahu continued, noting that “we enacted a roof plan here, created thousands of residential units, doubled the industrial zones, assisted residents economically, developed the highways and did many other good things.”
“On security, we have been active constantly. … There was [Operation] ‘Protective Edge’ [in 2014], which for the first time struck a significant blow to the tunnels that physically and psychologically threatened the residents in the area around the Gaza Strip. In 2021, there was ‘Operation Guardians of the Wall,’ which in effect neutralized the tunnel weapon and struck a very significant mortal blow to Hamas’s other capabilities,” said Netanyahu.
“Today, we will continue this effort with an additional 1.6 billion [shekels, or nearly $440 million]. This plan includes developing and upgrading public spaces, boosting education and young people, strengthening the local economy, increasing the council’s readiness for emergencies and other items,” he added.
More specifically, the funds will be partially allocated in the following manner:
1. Approximately NIS 830 million will be invested in developing infrastructure and upgrading public areas.
2. Approximately NIS 190 million will be invested in developing local and regional growth engines.
3. Approximately NIS 220 million will be invested in developing and strengthening the local economy.
4. Approximately NIS 70 million will be invested in emergency readiness.
5. Approximately NIS 100 million will be invested in strengthening personal and community resilience and security.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office noted that despite being targeted by incessant rocket fire, demographic growth in areas surrounding Gaza has significantly outpaced that of the rest of Israel.
“The decision [to allocate the funds] reflects the great importance that the government ascribes to developing the area around the Gaza Strip. The government will continue to strengthen residents of the area and the local councils. All government ministries will give national preference to the matter,” said the statement.