Dozens of demonstrators of the “Disabled become Panthers” group blocked roads at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday in a bid to up the ante in their campaign for better disability benefits, by causing major traffic disruptions at Terminal 3 of the international airport.
Preparing in advance for the protest, the Airport Authorities called on members of the public who were scheduled to fly on Tuesday afternoon or evening to arrive earlier than planned, to have patience and to follow police instructions.
Eyal Cohen, a leader of the “Disabled become Panthers” group said that the purpose of the demonstration was to “show strength of presence, to show decision makers that disabled people are not transparent and [that] next time we will make the campaign...more extreme.” The group is demanding that the monthly allowance granted to disabled people is raised to the current minimum wage, NIS 5,300.In February, the Knesset passed a bill
for a NIS 4.34 billion increase in disability allotments with the intention of raising the monthly allowance for those who are 100% disabled to the minimum wage. However, according to protesters, this has yet to be activated.
The organization said that without demonstrations of this kind, the general public would not have any awareness of the distress of the disabled population. “We are fighting for bread and medicine. Not for flights,” the group said.
“It is inconceivable that a state has a minimum earning threshold for a working person, but it is not valid for a person who lost his work capacity due to illness or accident,” the group continued. “Every one of us who is now severely disabled was a working man who paid taxes and social security all his life. The public knew that on the day it would need the state, it would not be there. For workers there are trade unions. We realized that if we did not fight ourselves no one would fight for us. Other organizations of the disabled who preach to us know the truth - the government has deceived them too.”
But Alex Friedman, chairman of the “Disabled is Not a Half-Person” organization criticized the protest saying that it was a “small group of people who have lost control.”
“There is no doubt that the disability pension must be at the minimum wage level, but the method of harming the public and endangering human life is wrong,” he said, expressing concern that the protest would harm the disabled population.
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