Israelis displaced by fires to receive assistance from Jewish Agency, government

Fire fighters trying to extinguish a wildfire, which broke out at the entrance to Nataf, outside Jerusalem, Nov. 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Fire fighters trying to extinguish a wildfire, which broke out at the entrance to Nataf, outside Jerusalem, Nov. 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Jewish Agency for Israel will provide immediate financial assistance to hundreds of families throughout Israel whose homes were damaged by fires that swept the country.

The announcement came hours after Israel’s finance minister, Moshe Kahlon, approved an allocation of about $650 per person for those who were forced to leave their homes and are unable to return. Over 1,000 homes reportedly were damaged or destroyed in the fires.

A grant of $1,000 from the Jewish Agency will be provided to each family “to help them address urgent needs presented by the loss of their place of residence,” the Jewish Agency said Sunday in a statement.

“At trying times like these, world Jewry feels closely connected to what is taking place in Israel and comes to our help without hesitation,” Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky said in the statement. “We are proud of our partners in Jewish communities around the world, and particularly in North America, and appreciate their solidarity when it matters the most.”

Local authorities, in co-ordination with Israel’s National Emergency Authority, will determine eligibility for the funds.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews provided vouchers for food and clothing to the elderly and new immigrants displaced by the fire. On Friday, it launched an emergency telephone hotline operating in Arabic, Hebrew and Russian, providing the elderly and new immigrants with details about seeking help and giving volunteers a way to offer their help.

Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA opened an Israel Fire Emergency Fund, with the funds designated to “provide financial aid to communities on the frontline of the fires and essential relief support to the immediate response and emergency personne.”

The Jewish National Fund also opened an emergency fund, with donations earmarked for new firefighting equipment and reforestation.

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