The Knesset Finance Committee, headed by MK Nissan Slomiansky (HaBayit HaYehudi), unanimously approved on Sunday the Treasury’s plan for compensating businesses in southern Israel for direct and indirect damage they had incurred during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

The MKs agreed to the Finance Ministry`s plan to give aid to businesses within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip border, the area that suffered the most from Hamas` rocket attacks. But the Knesset members on the committee persuaded the Treasury to increase the eligibility zone for farmers, to 20 kilometers from the border with Gaza, from seven kilometers.

The committee also approved several amendments to the general compensation plan. These included raising the amount businesses can receive as an advance, to 80% of the total payout, from 50% after Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. Small businesses with an annual turnover of up to 1.5 million shekels will be entitled to an advance equal to 60% of their total claim.

In addition, the maximum compensation limit for any business was raised to 4 million shekels, from 3 million shekels, in the event Operation Protective Edge continues past August 15.

Meanwhile, the heads of the Knesset agricultural caucus — MKs Zvulun Kalfa (HaBayit Hayehudi) and Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) reached an agreement with the Tax Authority and the Agriculture Ministry regarding compensation for farmers in the south that suffered losses due to the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas. Farmer whose fields or greenhouses are up to seven kilometers from the Gaza border would receive an 80% advance on their normal July-August earnings as well as deductions for other expenses (like packaging and sorting). For agricultural land between 7 and 20 kilometers from the border with Gaza the advance will be 50%, up from 40% in the previous draft.

Committee Chairman MK Slomiansky said, ”The IDF`s strength, beyond its military force, lies with the home front. The home front was severely harmed during the operation and must therefore be compensated by the state. I am pleased that the Israeli government has decided to compensate [businesses] now, while the operation is ongoing.”

Tax Authority Chairman Moshe Asher said the compensation agreement will ”strengthen the economic resilience of citizens and businesses in the south.”