family whose home has been hit by a Qassam
last month says the state is taking its time paying for the damage.
The rocket, which hit the Aflalo family's home directly, left a gaping hole in one of the house's outer walls. Independent contractors estimated the repairs to cost at least NIS 24,000 (roughly $6,100) but the Tax Authority, which is tasked with compensating homeowners in such cases, has decided to pay the family only NIS 6,000 ($1,500).
This isn't the first time the Aflalos' home has been harmed by a Qassam, so they have some experience dealing with the Tax Authority. Five years ago, a rocket that hit a neighboring house damaged the Aflalos' doors, windows and roof. Contractors hired by the authority worked on the house for months, forcing the family to find alternate housing. They finally returned to find the work unsatisfactory.
Rocket damage (Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman)
Shortly after their return, another Qassam hit Sderot, and the family decided to relocate to Ashdod. When the security situation appeared to calm down a bit, they returned to the southern city.
"We thought we're coming back to a safer city, but we were fooling ourselves," Limor Aflalo said.
In August their home was hit yet again, this time directly. The family has avoided cleaning up the debris, still hoping that another assessment by the Tax Authority could get them the full amount to make the repairs.
"The debris, the shrapnel and the dust, everything remains," Aflalo said. "I don't go into the room. My psychologist says my posttraumatic stress disorder has worsened, and every time I go up there I suffer from nightmares at night and anxiety during the day.
"Every time there is a strike in Gaza I lie awake at night, hoping to get my three children into the shelter in time."
Property tax officials came to the house two days after the attack but the Aflalos refused to allow them fix the damage, burnt by the past experience. Instead, they provided them with estimates from contractors. But what they got was only a quarter of what they had asked for.
The family turned to the Tax Authority again earlier this week, and was promised that a construction engineer will arrive at their home after the Sukkot
holiday in order to estimate the costs again.
"All we are asking is for the state to cover the cost of the damage, if not the mental one than at least the financial," Aflalo said.
The Tax Authority said that an experience assessor estimated the damage initially, and that renovations by a government-appointed contractor were offered with no cost to the family. Nevertheless, another meeting has been scheduled to "solve the disagreement and review the price quotes that were submitted by the family. The Aflalo family has the right to appeal the Tax Authority's assessment."