Israel: 200,000 families need help to survive

Every third child, every fourth elderly person and every fifth family lives in poverty in Israel

Published on World Socialist Web Site WSWS, by Danny Richardson, 12 September 2009.

According to the Alternative Poverty Report published by Latet, an Israeli humanitarian group, more than 200,000 Israeli families suffer from nutritional insecurity and need help if they are to survive. This represents more than 1 million people in a country of 6 million.

The financial crisis and the recession have exacerbated the situation. The need for aid is growing while the resources to help people in need are shrinking fast, with the result that the aid agencies’ ability to provide even the most basic support to those in need is in real danger.  

Latet Chairman Gilles Darmon and Eran Weintraub, general manager, said of its report on 2008, “Poverty has become more prevalent in 2008 — the poor have gotten poorer and the organizations’ ability to provide solutions has substantially declined due to a decline in donations, an erosion of public interest, the deterioration in the US dollar exchange rate, increase in the price of food and sweeping disinterest on the part of the government. 2009 will be catastrophic: many organizations will collapse” …

… Latet cites a host of statistics about what it means to be poor in Israel. In relation to health:

• 10 percent of the needy said that a person close to them had passed away because they had no money for medical care.

• 57 percent of aid recipients or their family members do not get the medical treatment or medication they need.

• 60 percent do not seek medical care.

• 62 percent of the needy do not have health insurance.

• Only 9 percent are able to pay for dental care.

• 18 percent of the aid recipients are chronically ill.

In relation to children:

• There was an increase of 33 percent in the number of children removed from the family and taken into care. A shocking one in four poor parents (24 percent) have had one or more of their children taken away due to financial difficulties, up from 18 percent in 2007.

• 87 percent of poor parents were unable to make the educational co-payments for their children.

• 80 percent of poor parents could not provide their children with the equipment they needed for school.

• Children in 70 percent of the families surveyed did not take part in school activities because their parents did not have enough money, an increase of 51 percent in the last two years.

• 82 percent were unable to afford academic studies for themselves or their children.

In relation to housing, the number of those able to meet their rent or mortgage payments had fallen by 25 percent in the last year, with only one quarter able to cover the cost of housing. Fifty-nine percent of the needy have moved home in order to find smaller or less expensive accommodation or because they had been evicted.  (full text).

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