(photo credit: Jonathan Beck)
The first list of assets of Holocaust victims found in Israel will be published on Wednesday.
The list includes 3,000 bank accounts and 500 real estate properties valued at more than NIS 100 million.
The financial assets and property lists - which will be published in Hebrew on the Israel Organization for the Restitution of Assets of Holocaust Victims's Web site -www.hashava.org.il - were compiled by the Custodian General's Office, the Jewish National Fund and from a compilation of pre-war bank accounts already published by the Knesset.
The list will appear on the group's Web site in English and Russian next week, a spokesman said Tuesday, and will be available by mail upon request for people who do not have Internet access.
The organization will also operate a multilingual hot line at (03) 516-4117.
State institutions have held property estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to Holocaust victims for decades, without transferring them to the victims' heirs.
Group spokesman Amir Dan said tens of millions of shekels were believed to have been invested in Bank Leumi, Israel's second largest bank, by Holocaust victims before World War II. Bank Leumi holds most of the 9,000 accounts (3,000 belonging to victims and another 6,000 belonging to survivors) found in Israeli banks.
"The State of Israel has a moral debt to fix the historic injustice which has been done, and to ensure that the property of Holocaust victims gets to their heirs," said Avraham Roet, 78, head of the restitution organization.
The Dutch-born Roet was hidden as a child by Christian families, and so survived the German occupation of the Netherlands.
"It is a pity that the State of Israel waited 60 years, but better late than never," he said.
The Israel Organization for the Restitution of Assets for Holocaust Victims was established by the Knesset last year.
"I am very glad that the intensive work of a parliamentary committee bore fruit [and established] this organization, whose purpose is to... return Holocaust victims' property to their rightful heirs," said Labor MK Colette Avital, who headed the committee.
Property and assets left unclaimed will be used to help elderly Holocaust survivors in need, the group said.
Nearly one-third of the estimated 250,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel live in poverty, recent welfare reports have found, numbers that have prompted growing calls for additional government assistance.