State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss submitted a six-chapter report to
the Knesset on Monday, highlighting a number of failures in various
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Although Lindenstrauss usually produces a
single annual report in May, his office said that the State Comptroller
published a second report this year because of an increase in his
report identified and analyzed a wide range of government activities
and provided comprehensive critiques of their failures, as well as
detailed recommendations on steps that should be taken to rectify them.
covered in the report include procedures carried out by the police and
the state attorney's office to close criminal investigation files deemed
not to be in the public interest; the internal workings of the Israel
Bar Association; the Ministry of Environmental Protection's handling of
stream rehabilitation; inter-ministerial special committees; competition
in the fuels market;and a monitoring report into the state of Rabbi
Shimon Bar Yochai's tomb at Mount Meron.
In a chapter on the Bar
Association, Lindenstrauss criticized the organization's legal aid
program, "Schar Mitzvah." The pro bono program, established in 2002,
provides legal aid to those on a low income, and is meant to complement
legal aid provided by the Justice Ministry's Legal Aid Bureau.
State Comptroller said the program needed do more, after his audit
found that while the number of applicants to the program more than
tripled between 2005 - 2009, from 1,200 to 4,000, the number of people
actually receiving representation only increased from 234 to 244 in the
The report also included a special chapter on inter-ministerial
committees established by government decisions. Lindenstrauss's audit
revealed that government ministries had established 650 such committees
The State Comptroller criticized many of the committees for being
poorly-run, which he warned is "damaging public confidence in
The audit revealed that many committees - particularly those in which
several ministries were involved - often did not complete work on time,
found it difficult to reach agreements and often not discuss their
recommendations. Often, this meant recommendations were never
implemented, a fact that Lindenstrauss slammed as a "waste of
As an example, Lindenstrauss said that the Health Ministry has failed
for the last 15 years to determine its policy for reusing medical
equipment such as coronary catheters, which could save as much as NIS 70
million a year.
Some Western countries prohibit the reuse of such equipment, others allow it to be reused subject to certain conditions.
Four committees of experts issued recommendations in 1995, 1997, 2001
and 2003 over reuse of such equipment to save money, but the ministry
did not decide what to do.
Although the comptroller asked the Health Ministry to come up with a
solution in 2004, there is no estimated date set for resolving the
issue, and hospitals continue to to reuse disposable medical equipment
without supervision or control, Lindenstrauss said in the report.
Police and the state attorney's office come under fire in another
chapter for closing "a significant" portion of criminal cases and
choosing not to prosecute suspects for no good reason.
"Police misused their authority to close cases due to a lack of public interest," Lindenstrauss said in the report.
The report criticized police for "closing cases without the proper
authority," and said officers "recommended closures in violation of
instructions by the attorney general" in some instances.
In a chapter on the police and the state attorney's office,
Lindenstrauss also criticized law enforcement bodies for failing to
prosecute cases involving drugs for self-use, as stipulated in drug
legislation passed in 1985.
The report also called on the attorney general's office and prosecutors
to develop a "central, unified, updated policy" to inform decisionmakers
when to shut cases and when to prosecute, particularly in cases
involving street violence, road rage, and violence in nightclubs,
offenses that Lindenstrauss said "influenced the quality of public
In a chapter on the Environmental Protection Ministry's efforts to
rehabilitate the country's 31 major streams, Lindenstrauss recommended
that this task must be given greater priority in view of the
considerable work still required.
The State Comptroller's report defined a series of recommendations
including allocating more funding and improving coordination with other
Lindenstrauss also said that infighting involving government offices and
state-owned companies was preventing the expansion of competition in
the fuels market and the development of infrastructure at Haifa port.
He said the National Infrastructures Ministry and Finance Ministry still
had not submitted a proposal to the government based on the January
2010 recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee into barriers to
improving competition and infrastructure.
He also held the Transport Ministry to account for delaying a bill on
the development of infrastructure that would ease the importation of
refined fuels to Haifa port.
Reporting on the state of the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a
Talmudic sage of the second century CE, Lindenstrauss addressed ongoing
concerns with the facilities serving the pilgrimage site.
The site, on Mount Meron in the Galilee, is the second most visited
Jewish holy place in Israel after the Western Wall, with 1.5 million
visitors every year.
The infrastructure at the site is, however, unsuited to the huge number
of visitors, particularly on the anniversary of the rabbi's death on the
Lag B'Omer celebration, when the tomb is flooded with hundreds of
thousands of visitors.
The 2008 State Comptroller's report highlighted a number of deficiencies in the site's infrastructure, including narrow access
roads and footpaths, as well as unauthorized refurbishments to the
structures at the site and the illegal construction of additional
This year's report points out that the unauthorized building
developments are structurally unstable but have still not been torn
down. It also emphasizes that despite a recommendation made in 2008, a
body to oversee the Lag B'Omer celebrations at the grave has still not
An underground causeway has been built to ease pedestrian traffic, but
vehicular access is still restricted which is a concern for emergency
In November this year, the government decided to place the site under
the management of a special government body, supervised by the tourism
minister, which will now be responsible for the upkeep of the site and
the implementation of safety recommendations.
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich contributed to this report.