Bombed out Egged bus terrorism terror attack 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In a dramatic turn of events Thursday, a last-minute deal between the Finance Ministry and the National Insurance Institute paved the way for redressing a loophole in the law that leaves orphans who have lost both parents in terrorist attacks with less financial aid and support than other such victims.
MK Haim Katz (Likud), chairman of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, was notified immediately before a hearing aimed at preparing legislation on the matter that a financial package of some NIS 550,000 for the orphans had been approved by the Treasury, his spokesman said.
The legislation, which was due for a second and third (final) reading, will now be amended to include the new payout and will likely be brought for approval to the Knesset plenum next week. The aid package, which will bring support for orphans who have lost both parents in line with army widows and other victims of terrorism, will benefit an estimated 80 orphans from around 22 families.
“Beyond the fact that this injustice has now been addressed, especially for those who became orphans before the year 2000 and have not received any compensation until now; beyond the ultimate results of this law, is the thrill we all feel with how this matter has been treated by committee chairman [K]atz and other Knesset members involved in enacting this law,” said lawyer Na’ama Tzoref, whose parents, Rafi and Helena Halevy, were killed by terrorists in Kedumim in 2006 and has been at the forefront of this battle for several years.
Tzoref pointed out that many of the orphans who participated in the discussions during the drafting of this bill are not recognized by the state as terror victims and as such are not entitled to several key financial benefits or supportive services provided to other such victims.
Rather, those who lose two parents end up receiving less aid than those who lose one parent, and the situation is exacerbated for those over the age of 21, who are not entitled to any long-term benefits such as discounts on municipal real-estate tax, television license fees or rehabilitation treatment. At present, they only receive several one-time scholarships for certain lifecycle events.
“This bill is revolutionary, innovative and creative, it goes above and beyond what we thought we could achieve thanks to the pressure from MK Katz,” said Habayit Hayehudi MK Zevulun Orlev, who together with MK Dalia Itzik of Kadima is the main impetus behind the legislation. Orlev uncovered the loophole in the law when he was minister of welfare and social services in 2002 to 2003, and has been fighting to close it ever since.
The present legislation for orphan’s compensation is based on military
rules, where the rationale is that it is usually a young male soldier
killed in the line of duty, leaving either parents or a widow with
children behind. Currently, in families where one parent is killed by
terrorists, the surviving spouse and his or her children are considered
victims of terror by the National Insurance Institute and entitled to
financial benefits and support services for as long as they need them.
“I believe that this payment should be retroactive from the day of the
attack,” said Danny Bushkanitz, whose parents were murdered in a 1978
bus attack. “We have been through so much pain in our lives and this is
all we receive.”
Maya Shor, whose parents were killed in the same bus attack, added:
“Danny is right but I just want to end this story. I trust that the MKs
are making a fair and right decision for us.”