While farmers, workers and some business owners in southern Israel get government compensation for days they are required to take off from work because of the security situation, owners of restaurants and simchah halls have not been eligible – until now. Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gani (United Torah Judaism) announced Wednesday that funding for compensation had finally been found, and restauranteurs and caterers who took a loss due to orders by the Homefront Command could apply for compensation. The funding will make it easier for people who were forced to cancel their simchos to get full compensation for their losses.
On Tuesday, as rockets started falling in southern Israel, the Homefront Command issued closure orders for all public forums in the Gaza border area, and banned gatherings of 100 or more people in most of southern Israel. This is standard procedure during attacks like the ones that took place Tuesday – but it leads to the cancellation of many events, including weddings, bar mitzvahs and other simchos.
According to the law, families whose events are canceled are eligible for a full refund, but many people have complained that they are forced to haggle with catering halls, who claim that they suffer losses that customers are required to share. In some cases, the catering hall refuses to cancel an event, telling customers that they can have up to 100 people, and that if they cancel because many of their guests will not be able to attend, it is their responsibility.
After Operation Protective Edge in 2014, tax officials announced that they would include restaurants and catering halls in the compensation scheme – but until now, sources for that compensation were not available. In testimony before the Finance Committee last week, tax officials said that it was difficult to evaluate the losses to restaurants, which may or may not have had a busy night had the attacks not occurred. Committee members slammed the Tax Authority for its stance, setting off a series of discussions which culminated in Wednesday’s announcement.
MK Rabbi Gafni said Wednesday that “we hope the current round of fighting will end without injury to soldiers or citizens. We all want these attacks to end once and for all, especially those who are directly affected by them. We have succeeded in including restauranteurs and catering hall owners in the compensation program for victims of these attacks, where previously they had not been eligible. They will receive the same compensation as farmers, operators of tourist sites and the like.”