Israeli government approves increased payments to returned Gaza hostages

The monthly stipend doubles from $365 to $690.

By Troy O. Fritzhand, The Algemeiner

Israel on Friday approved an amendment to a law providing payments to returned hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, increasing the aid the former captives are due to receive.

The original law, which was passed in 2005, stipulates monthly payments to “a person who was captured by the enemy.” This week’s amendment increases the monthly stipend given to Israelis who were released from captivity from 1,375 Shekels ($365) per month to 2,600 shekels ($690) per month.

“The change in the legislation is welcome, and there is no doubt that it brings another layer of assistance to the abductees and their families,” said Zvika Cohen, the director-general of Israel’s National Insurance.

“As those who take an essential part in the care of the victims of terrorism, this comprehensive envelope brings immediate help both financially and mentally, saves bureaucracy, and helps in the recovery process that we all wish for.”

Yaron Cohen — who leads the Hostages, Missing Persons, and Returnees Division in the Prime Minister’s Office — said his team worked with the “Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice to provide an appropriate response to the kidnapping of citizens from their homes and their captivity in inhumane conditions, with the understanding that they face physical and mental difficulties which have no precedent in the history of the State of Israel.”

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He added, “We will continue to work together with the families and all government officials to study the needs and gaps and do everything to give them a proper and supportive environment.”

Alongside the monthly stipend, all released hostages will become eligible for disability status, meaning they will receive substantial discounts on housing, car purchases, and medical care.

The approved change in the law came over six months after Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists invaded southern Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7, murdering 1,200 people and kidnapping 253 others as hostages.

The legal changes only apply to those captives who have been released. So far, 112 hostages have been returned alive to Israel, though not all of them are Israeli citizens and therefore not eligible for the payments.

Mounting evidence, including testimonies from some of the released captives, has revealed that many hostages endured sexual abuse at the hands of Hamas terrorists.

It is unclear how many of the hostages still in Gaza are alive. Egypt, Qatar, and the US have been mediating talks between Israel and Hamas to reach a ceasefire in Gaza and secure the release of the remaining abductees. Hamas has to this point rejected several ceasefire proposals.

“The disaster of Oct. 7 brought with it human and civil complexities that the State of Israel has never known before,” Israeli Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur said of the latest amendment.

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“Redemption of captives is not only a Jewish obligation, but a human obligation, and this law is intended to provide relief for those who returned to Israel after a severe trauma and to ensure that they receive not only financial assistance but a package of rights and treatments that will help them return to normal as much as possible.”

Now that the changes have been approved by the relevant government bodies, including the Defense Ministry, the measure will be sent to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, for a vote.

The change is expected to be passed into law.

It is stipulated in the wording that the payment changes will apply retroactively, meaning that the released hostages will see an extra payment from the months they were released until now.