An IDF soldier takes part in drills on the Golan Heights.
(photo credit: IDF)
Disabled IDF veterans lambasted the Defense Ministry at a Knesset State Control Committee on Wednesday, telling horror stories of their treatment and feeling that when they request medical, psychological and other help, “there is no answer.”
Disabled soldier Nachshon Lior, who was wounded during the 2014 Gaza war, told of how an operation he needed was delayed for a full year until the ministry formally recognized him as disabled.
Lior continued that because of the extreme delay in recognition, he went into debt and was forced to file an appeal with the Appeals Committee.
In an emotionally searing story, he described that the committee acted as though he were a liar, with a doctor requesting him to hop on the leg on which he was wounded.
Committee chairwoman Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) responded, “We are talking about an embarrassment and arbitrariness.... From the disgraceful stories that I heard, the [Rehabilitation Branch in the Defense Ministry] is not faithfully doing its job...It cannot be that this is how our sons and daughters are being treated.”
Elharar angrily demanded an explanation within a month regarding all of the complaints.
IDF Comptroller Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Beinhorn slammed the ministry’s delays as flouting, and inconsistent with, the law on the issue and resulting from unauthorized internal ministry procedures.
Another comptroller representative complained that the ministry has no maximum time limits for deciding cases or collecting evidence regarding claims.
Other veterans told of being denied recognition of their disabled status due to a doctor’s negligence and of delays in obtaining sufficient funding to cover medical needs even after being recognized as disabled.
Defense Ministry Rehabilitation Branch director Moshe Tzin responded that his staff is working around the clock to approve requests for recognition as disabled, but implied that he lacks the budget to respond fast enough and to fund disabled veterans at expected levels.
Tzin noted that he had received 594 requests for recognition of disabled status due to the 2014 Gaza war, of which 284 were approved for disability benefits of 10 percent or higher.
He added that his office had already recognized as such 19 IDF soldiers and Israel Police officers who were wounded in the current wave of violence.
The recognition enables the wounded to enter the ministry’s official rehabilitation program, known as the Green Lane, which provides continuous medical care.
The wounded include 12 Israel Police and career and conscripted Border Police officers, and seven IDF soldiers.
Defense Ministry Rehabilitation Branch litigation director Yehudit Deutsch stated that the office must respond within nine months of having received all documents, has only three staff members to field 2,500 requests, “and that in this situation, it is impossible to reach an ideal result.”
The complaints that the ministry has no time limits for deciding cases stem from the fact that the clock for the nine months does not start until all documents are collected, and there is no time limit for that stage.Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.