(November 20, 2023 / JNS) Israeli lawmakers on Monday voted in favor of a 1.15 billion shekel ($308 million) proposal to fund the recently created Tekuma Authority, which will be responsible for rebuilding, developing and strengthening the Gaza border communities devastated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 cross-border massacre.
The Tekuma funds, redirected from the 2023 state budget, are to be used for “emergency assistance to communities near the Gaza Strip, assistance to the cities of Ofakim and Ashkelon, and local authorities absorbing evacuated populations,” the Knesset Finance Committee announced.
The committee on Monday also earmarked 50 million shekels ($13.4 million) for constructing additional bomb shelters in Bedouin towns in the Negev and for satellite internet devices to facilitate connectivity and remote learning in protected spaces, among other war expenses.
During a visit to the Tekuma Authority in Yavne, northeast of Ashdod, on Oct. 26, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to rebuild and expand the communities destroyed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion.
The attacks resulted in the loss of more than 1,200 lives, with thousands sustaining injuries and roughly 240 people, including women, children, the elderly and soldiers, being taken captive.
Following a tour of the Tekuma offices, Netanyahu said that “hope is built on one important principle, and that is confidence. We need to crush Hamas so that people will have the confidence to return.
“In the final stage, we can also build and expand,” said the prime minister. He vowed to again see the border region “flourishing and safe. There is a national, primary, even historical task here, I would say.”
On Monday, the communal dining hall at Kibbutz Be’eri was officially reopened for the first time since Oct. 7, mainly for use by the remaining agricultural workers and employees of the printing factory. The remaining residents of Be’eri have been evacuated.
“It’s very moving to see these images. The dining room is colorful and shiny, full of people, and the neon lights are on,” Kibbutz member Miri Gad told Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster.
Be’eri was one of the hardest-hit areas in the Hamas attacks. Some 30% of Be’eri’s inhabitants were murdered or taken hostage by terrorists. Over the past few weeks, archaeologists have been combing and sieving the ashes from burnt houses in which families were killed, looking for human remains.
The Defense Ministry has also been assisting in the rebuilding of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. As part of the ministry’s New Horizon program, ministry personnel have restored damaged security fences, generators and street lights, it said on Monday.