Finance Committee Discusses Compensation for Indirect Damage for Businesses in Gaza Operation

YERUSHALAYIM -
Rescue personnel and Home Front command at the scene  where a rocket fired from Gaza by Palestinian terrorists hit a house in Ashkelon, May 20. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

​​The Finance Committee met on Monday to discuss regulations on compensation for indirect damage incurred during Operation Guardian of the Walls, in which a response was given to the demand of the Finance Committee from the past few weeks to provide a solution for indirect damage in localities within a range of 40 to 80 kilometers from Gaza.

In the meeting, Finance Minister MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) and the committee members sought to determine that indirect damage as a result of the events in the mixed cities that led to closing a business for seven days or above would also merit compensation. However, Justice Ministry  officials and legal officials from the Finance Ministry said that the minister was not empowered by existing law to establish such a mechanism, and that his authority concerning events of this kind during warfare was limited to [compensation for] direct damage alone.

After a debate, in which Committee Chairmain MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and the committee members sought to determine that the actions in question constituted acts of hostility during wartime — a position that was rejected by the Finance Ministry legal officials and the Justice Ministry officials — it was decided that the discussion would continue tomorrow, and that the professional echelon would hold consultations to find a solution for this category of compensation. According to the plan under discussion, a business that was adversely affected by the riots during the operation, and suffered direct harm as a result of the riots or due to an attack from Gaza, and was closed as a result for seven days or above will be entitled to [compensation for] indirect damage for the suspension of activity, either by wage payments or via the business turnover track.

Along with this, the committee reached several achievements: The finance minister agreed, at the request of the committee members, to determine that within the wage compensation track, the compensation for employers who paid wages to workers who were absent due to the state of warfare — referring to workers who live up to 80 kilometers from the Gaza border — will stand at NIS 430 per worker per workday, instead of the amount of NIS 370 specified by the original regulations, as was set in 2019. This is after the pressure applied by the committee led to revision of the regulations and setting the distance [from Gaza] at 80 kilometers, instead of 40 kilometers as in previous operations. The finance minister accepted the request of the committee members to change the amount, after the members noted that the payment should be updated given the years that had passed.

It was also determined, at the committee’s demand and with the consent of the finance minister, that in the “business turnover track” — a compensation plan for businesses located up to 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip border, in accordance with the loss of revenue — the compensation ceiling will stand at NIS 1.5 million, instead of NIS 1 million in the regulations as brought before the committee.

Chairman Rabbi Gafni summed up the discussion: “We are all citizens of this state, and we know that it was all part of the same warlike situation in Gaza, in Yerushalayim and in other places. The finance minister has agreed to compensate, but there’s a problem with the legal experts. I am requesting to pass this; we are requesting the Finance Ministry’s position on the matter of indirect compensation in mixed cities, and I am asking the professional echelon to find a solution to the issue. There may be no choice but to amend primary legislation.”