Tourism Minister Uzi Landau called Monday on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exempt Gaza border-communities from sales tax.
"I propose a zero percent sales tax like in Eilat. It will help residents and business by saving them from paying the tax. As a result, people will flock to shop in the area of the south."
Landu sent a letter to the prime minister with the proposal. "While the cabinet is handling the military campaign, it is also important to consider the socio-economic front. It is our moral obligation to the residents of the south."
The tourism minister stressed that the government must not wait to address the economic issues. "It is exactly at this time that we must advance the economic campaign, and not wait for the end of hostilities. The residents of the south and the Gaza-border deserve the support which the government of Israel can provide them."
Landau said that tax exemption would be the first step in a planned aid package for local authorities, to include support for small-to-medium businesses along with reparations and additional benefits.
Ashkelon mayor Shimoni Itamar told Ynet that more than 4,000 businesses have not managed to sell as much as 20 percent of their usual quarterly revenues. "We are talking about a city that could be the jewel of the state of Israel. This is not a city that must live under fire."
Shimoni called on the prime minister to decisively end the current military campaign, in light of the coming school year's start on September 1. "As long as Hamas plays roulette with our lives, we are far from reaching our objective. We are prepared to begin the school year, but if the situation continues, we will not open the schools."
Itay Blumenthal contributed to this report.