The Jewish Agency will provide loans of up to 100,000 shekels to companies affected by the arson caused by balloons, kites, and rocket attacks originating in the Gaza Strip.

In recent months, terrorists have launched hundreds of kites, balloons and other incendiary flying objects over the Gaza border to wreak havoc in Israel.

According to the Israeli Fire and Rescue Service, some 300 fires have broken out in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip since border tensions rose in the spring of this year, affecting more than 60,000 acres. This has caused damage to farms in the area, and also to small businesses in the tourism industry, including guest houses, restaurants, and pubs.

The loans will help small and medium-sized enterprises near the Gaza border that have suffered from recent kite and rocket attacks by Gaza terrorists. Loans will be granted with expedited processing and preferential terms.

Assistance will be provided through the Jewish Agency’s Small Business Loan Fund program through a special grant from the Ness Fund, supported by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

In turn, the Jewish Agency’s Small Business Loan Fund program activated the Ness Fund for Negev Development. The Jewish Agency’s assistance will focus on business in the fields of commerce, tourism and services. Agricultural businesses are run by the Israeli government, and are defined as victims of hostilities. As part of the emergency plan, loans will be granted to companies located in the Hof Ashkelon, Sedot Negev, Shaar Hanegev, Eshkol and Merhavim regional councils, as well as to the cities of Sderot and Netivot.

Since the program began, the Jewish Agency’s Loan Fund program has helped 1,900 businesses and entrepreneurs, lending more than 320 million shekels and creating approximately 9,000 new jobs.

The interest charged on the loans is prime + 1.5% with a grace period of 6 months followed by 5 years of principal and interest repayments

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Lieberman
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Lieberman (Facebook)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned the incident during a visit to the Arab city of Kafr Kassem and called on the police to complete the investigation as soon as possible.

“We must understand that things can get out of control because of the extremism that is prevalent in the area,” Rivlin told residents. “We are all destined to live here together in this country and we are not sentenced to live like this.”

“Good citizens who wake up every morning and save lives, have fun on the beach and are attacked for being Arabs. I wish the racists who attacked them a long prison sentence,” Zionist Union President Avi Gabbay wrote on Twitter.

“They came with knives, with metal bars. They just started hitting us for no reason,” said one of the victims. “This was an attack for nationalistic reasons.”

Another victim said it was the first time she had encountered such violence. “How can anyone ask someone else their race? Are we forbidden to be here because we’re Arabs? This is a public place, for everyone.