The 2013 State Comptroller’s Report was published on Wednesday, covering Joseph
Shapira’s first complete review of everything from problems with government
support for and integration of Ethiopian- Israelis, to violations of foreign
resident minors’ rights, to a range of serious problems in the health
Shapira submitted the report to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on
For the first time, the report’s executive summary was
also submitted in Arabic.
Shapira began the report by stating that at the
beginning of his term as state comptroller, he announced that “the struggle
against public corruption and in support of higher ethics,” as well as “delving
in-depth” into the country’s “socioeconomic issues which impact a decisive
majority of the population,” would be important goals.
He noted that
these issues are not merely internal problems, but that they also “impact the
image of the State of Israel” in the eyes of the international community. In
that vein, it was noteworthy that Shapira mentioned violations of the state’s
international obligations a number of times throughout the report.Unlike his
predecessor, Micha Lindenstrauss, who frequently censored specific individuals
with accusations of special responsibility for problems he was reviewing,
Shapira avoided naming names.
He did warn, however, that he would follow
up on whether progress was being made in correcting the deficiencies discussed
in his report and would publish a follow-up report “noting names of key
personnel who carry responsibility for correcting the deficiencies” as well as
scoring their performance.
Regarding Ethiopian-Israelis, the document
says that despite visible and significant efforts by the government to advance
the integration of Ethiopian olim into society, undeniable gaps still remain in
fields such as employment, education, army service and welfare.
120,000 Ethiopians in Israel, representing some 1.5 percent of the population.
In the past 20 years, the government has invested hundreds of millions of
shekels for their absorption through various national projects, including a
five-year plan established in 2008 to improve their conditions.
remain, however. For example, the report looks at the 2010-2011 academic year
and shows that, despite extra student aid, only a small number of Ethiopian
students enrolled in pre-academic programs, about 28.5% dropped out in the
middle and more than half did not go on to study at
University and college dropout rates for Ethiopian students
are higher than for the rest of the population.
Ethiopians are also much
less represented than the rest of the population in governmental roles and the
According to the state comptroller’s conclusions, to
bridge the gaps in the various fields, the issue of integrating Ethiopian olim
into Israel society should be handled by one body that will “see the big
One of the hot issues in the report is the description of the
state’s agencies violating the domestic Law of the Child as well as the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding resident minors who are not
Without specifically identifying them as African migrants and
while not referring only to those migrants (the report said it encompasses
around 211,000 persons, of whom only a third could be described as African
migrants), the report alluded to a large group, noting that many of the minors
entered the country illegally, coming over the Egyptian border since
The report said that “the heart is tormented at the sight of an
infant left for many hours in conditions of neglect and filth.”
continued that the public’s heart was torn by “the sight of a youngster left for
long months in a detention facility.”
The report heavily criticized a
Welfare and Social Services Ministry decision in 2009 to help non-citizen
resident children only if they were explicitly in danger, but not to assist
those who were in difficult socioeconomic circumstances, as it does with
In the health sector, the report said that 18 years after the
National Health Insurance Law went into effect, the government lacks direction
and single-minded goals for the health of the nation.
highlighted many of the problems with privatization of healthcare. In addition,
the report slammed the levels of bacteria in the country’s medical facilities,
stating that a staggering 4,000 to 6,000 deaths every year can be attributed to
the presence of bacteria found in hospital antibiotics.
of antibiotic- resistant bacteria poses a threat to treating bacterial
infections,” the report said. It is possible to cut down on 25%-75% of the
bacteria, which will save anywhere from 1,000 to 4,500 lives per year, the
Discussing healthcare problems in the periphery, the report
said that even though health services must be provided “on an equal basis,”
there are “notable gaps” between the care received in the periphery and that
received in the center of the country.
A section on the Finance Ministry
found that the state lacked oversight for NIS 29 billion
in loans it had
extended, either directly or through banks.
Of the loans given out, the
ministry made few or insufficient efforts to seek repayment from borrowers that
owed a total of NIS 813.6 million and whose payments were seven years overdue.
As the new budget proposing tax hikes and welfare cuts to fill the nation’s
deficit demonstrates, nearly a billion shekels of lost funds could have eased
some of the painful measures.
Next, Shapira performed an in-depth review
of problems in the educational system and with weaker sectors of society,
including special-needs students, poor implementation of legal assistance to
those in need and inadequate assistance to single-parent families.
report pointed out a number of problems in academic institutions’ ability to
deal with complaints of sexual harassment, noting a tendency to “procrastinate”
in handling them. It examined the Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University,
finding that in one case Hebrew University provided financial compensation of
some NIS 38,000 to a student who had complained, but otherwise backed the
faculty member and did not appear ready to take stronger action to deter further
The report touches on a myriad of other subjects, including
failures in internal government oversight, religious controversies surrounding
conversion and marriage, a range of economic issues, problems with law and
order, defects in local and national agencies and advancing the status of women
Shapira said that he hoped that the report’s criticism would
lead to “improving the quality of life and environment of those living in
Israel.”Niv Elis, Judy Siegel and
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to