Lindenstrauss praises police for fighting corruption

2009 Ombudsman's Report also highlights case of Holocaust survivor who was denied benefits 4 times.

April 29, 2010 05:33
3 minute read.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.

Micha Lindenstrauss 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss spoke out on Wednesday for the first time about the recent alleged corruption scandals, after presenting the 2009 Ombudsman’s Report to the Knesset State Control Committee.

“Four-and-a-half years ago, I told you that if we do not apply an iron fist, corruption will increase,” he told reporters. “The law enforcement authorities accepted my view and acted accordingly.”

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Asked whether he was afraid that the system of government might be rotten, Lindenstrauss replied, “I am not worried about the people. The matter today is in good and reliable hands. The police and the state prosecution are doing very good work, as did the former attorney-general [Menahem Mazuz] and the state attorney [Moshe Lador]. I don’t think the system is rotten. There are examples of corruption, and they must be uprooted.”

Lindenstrauss, who also holds the title of ombudsman and as such deals with complaints by private individuals against public authorities, said his office had dealt with 12,011 complaints over the year, including some filed in 2008. More than 7,000 were either rejected out of hand, or the procedure was halted in the middle of the examination.

Out of the 5,224 complaints investigated, 1,600 were found to be justified.

The ombudsman investigates complaints against several kinds of state-funded institutions including the government, state institutions, local authorities and other public organizations.

Regarding the government, 198 complaints were lodged against the Ministry of Transportation and 54.5 percent of them were found to be justified. Ninety-eight complaints were lodged against the Ministry of Education and 33.7% were found to be justified, while 54 complaints were lodged against the Ministry of Defense and 33.3% were found to be justified.

As for government institutions, 331 complaints were lodged against the police and 43.8% were found to be justified. Seventy-five complaints were lodged against the IDF and 37.3% were found to be justified.

The Haifa and B’nei Brak municipalities scored the largest number of justified complaints among municipal governments. Twenty-five out of 44 complaints were found justified in B’nei Brak and 25 out of 65 in Haifa. Jerusalem registered 24 justified complaints out of 74 examined.

A total of 149 complaints were registered against the Israel Broadcasting Authority, of which 55% were found to be justified. Fifty-one complaints were lodged against the Egged bus cooperative, of which 52.9% were found to be justified. The Israel Postal Company and the Israel Electric Corporation were also singled out by the ombudsman for relatively high numbers of justified complaints.

The report included summaries of some of the complaints the ombudsman dealt with and the results of the examinations.

In one case, a retired teacher applied to the Finance Ministry’s pension authority to recognize 30 years of employment by the Ministry of Education so that she would be eligible for a special “jubilee pension.”

The authority recognized only 29 years and refused to authorize the special pension for her, even though she had worked one-third of a full-time position during a 30th year of teaching for a period of seven months. The teacher complained to the labor court, which ruled that her 30th year should count. Nevertheless, the Treasury continued to refuse to grant her the special pension. She complained to the ombudsman, who accepted her complaint.

In another case, a Holocaust survivor who received a disability grant from the Survivors’ Rights Authority in the Treasury asked for a grant increase because she had developed osteoporosis. The chief doctor of the authority said he found no signs of the illness and rejected the application. The woman applied three more times and was turned down each time.

The ombudsman wrote that even though he was not obliged to look into her complaint, since she had never appealed the Treasury’s decision to a special tribunal, it decided to examine the matter because of the unusual circumstances – most likely a reference to the fact that the woman was elderly and a survivor – and ordered the Treasury to look into the case again. This time it approved the request.

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