Latet, an organization that provides assistance to needy populations in Israel,
released on Monday its annual alternative poverty report, which paints 2012 as
“a bad year” for Israel.
Some of the report’s most disturbing facts were
in regard to children in needy families.
According to the data, which was
presented at a conference in Rishon Lezion on Monday morning, half of the
children of impoverished families are forced to work today – a sharp increase
compared to 2011, when this figure was only 19 percent. In general, one out of
five Israeli children have had to drop out of school for this reason.
percent of children of impoverished families have also begged for money on the
streets over the past year due to difficult economic situations at home. In
2011, only 3% of children did so.
Overall, 27% of children in Israel have
experienced full days without food this year, up from 21% in
Economic hardship also seems to be taking a toll on the children’s
According to the report, 21% of needy families had to send
their children to boarding school in 2012, an increase of 23% compared to
Also, one-fifth of those families reported that in order to be able
to purchase basic food products, they had to give up on proper education for
Purchasing books and school supplies, for example, was
made difficult for these families – as 62% of their kids did not have the
necessary materials to study this year.
The children were also affected
socially, as 69% of them did not participate in social school activities in
In addition, only 4% of the elderly in Israel who receive
government allowances reported that the sum enabled them to live with
Ninety-five percent of Israelis who receive aid from NGOs said
they were forced to forgo essential needs due to their inability to afford them,
and 63% were unable to pay for their medical needs. This is “alarming
information,” according to the report, in light of the fact that 36% of those
receiving the aid are chronically ill and disabled – a 44% increase compared to
The issue of employment was also addressed by the Latet survey. It
found that 15% of Israelis were working at a second job or had to change jobs to
increase their income, and 18% of the general public took a bank loan to cope
with economic hardship in 2012.
Moreover, 53% of the country’s unemployed
said they could not find work because of health problems and limitations,
reflecting an increase of 20% compared to 2011.
In terms of health, it
was noted that 38% of the general public suffered from diseases caused by
malnutrition and stress, and 21% of aid recipients suffer from diabetes, which
is in direct correlation with poverty. Blood sugar imbalances can be due to the
inability to purchase medicine and food adapted to the disease and its food
Latet executive director Eran Weintraub said in a
statement, “If we want to survive as a society in another 60 years, we should
not treat poverty as a result of circumstances, but understand that its scope,
its severity and its depth, are a direct result of policy – which brings Israel
closer to third world countries and drives it further away from the developed
“The grave situation of poor children and the increasing
barriers that prevent them from exiting poverty promise us more generations of
penury and distress,” he added.
Weintraub also stated that poverty must
become a major national priority on the government’s agenda and suggested that
the authorities implement an emergency plan to reduce poverty by half, which
will bring Israel closer to the average poverty rates of the rest of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member
“Our aim at Latet, which is a non-partisan and
non-governmental organization, is that the ‘social flag’ will not give up on
just an election slogan. Therefore, we appeal to all the main parties competing
for the 19th Knesset to state their plans to reduce poverty and commit to
solving the problem,” said Weintraub.
The poverty survey has been
administered by Latet annually for ten years, and presents a more insightful
picture than the National Insurance Institute’s annual survey – as it takes a
closer look at the daily struggles of the poor in Israel.
report includes responses from 675 needy people who receive aid from NGOs
distributing food, and another 500 members of the general public.
those 500, 69% of the respondents thought the most urgent problem in Israel is
the treatment of poverty and social inequalities, followed by 61% who
prioritized education, followed by only 44% who chose national security
Furthermore, 75% believed that the socioeconomic situation in Israel
represents a greater threat than Iran.
Ahead of the January 22 elections,
56% of respondents also said that a party’s commitment to addressing poverty
significantly affects their voting decision.