Southerners offered grants to return home by March 1

While the agreement allows them to stay in hotels until July, “You don’t buy security with money,” say some angry residents.  

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The government announced Sunday that it wants to encourage all those who are able to return to their homes near the Gazan border to do so starting March 1, and they will receive an adjustment grant of a few tens of thousands of shekels, depending on the size of their families.

A single person will receive NIS 15,480, a couple will receive double that, and for each child the family will receive approximately NIS 8,000. Thus, a family with four children will be entitled to some NIS 62,000.

The exact amount of the grant will be decided according to the date of return and the family’s needs during the adjustment period.

Sderot is a town in the south whose entire population of 30,000 was evacuated in the days following the October 7 Hamas invasion.  Some 50 townspeople were murdered there,  along with 20 police officers, as terrorists rampaged through the streets.  Residents of Sderot told Kan News that their safety was much more important than money.

“Compensation? And what of our lives?” one elderly woman asked rhetorically.

Another declared her determination not to return, saying, “That part of our lives is over. For 23 years we suffered daily from Kassam rockets [launched from Gaza], and every time they told us, ‘Return to Sderot, everything will be OK.’ What will happen now? Now it’s terrorists! We’ll get Kassams and terrorists? That’s too much already.”

“You don’t buy security with money,” said a younger man. “Whoever signs on this agreement should come to live with us. He should also come with his children. I’m ready, if he comes with his children too.”

The people are not being forced to return yet. They may stay in hotels funded by the state until July 7, nine months to the day that Israel declared war on Hamas, whose terrorists slaughtered a total of 1,200 people on what Israelis call “the Black Sabbath,” and abducted 253 as hostages.

The government acknowledges that there are those within the seven-kilometer range of the Gaza envelope who are the target of this arrangement.  Many of these people cannot return in the near future because their homes have been seriously damaged by some of the 12,000 rockets Hamas has fired, mainly at southern communities, since the war began. Many of the kibbutzim right on the border have been almost completely destroyed, and their residents are not expected to return for at least a year, if not two, until their communities are rebuilt.

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