The Israeli Justice Ministry provided legal aid to around 2,400 Holocaust survivors and Jewish World War II veterans in 2022, it said on Monday.
Shari Vardi, an attorney who works in the Justice Ministry's legal aid department, said that every year the ministry spoke to many Holocaust survivors that didn't know about their rights or how to exercise them.
"Every year we receive inquiries from survivors and Nazi fighters who were unaware of their rights, and last year too we received many inquiries from survivors who so far have not applied to exercise their right to various allowances and benefits."Shari Vardi
"Every year we receive inquiries from survivors and Nazi fighters who were unaware of their rights, and last year too we received many inquiries from survivors who so far have not applied to exercise their right to various allowances and benefits," said Vardi. "We make efforts to reach as many as possible and inform them on the subject, and help them with legal proceedings if they encounter difficulties with the various authorities."
Israel's benefits for Holocaust survivors
By law, Israel provides pensions and other benefits for Holocaust survivors and veterans of the war against Nazi Germany.
The Justice Ministry can provide legal advice to clarify the relevant laws that may be relevant, assistance in organizing their evidence for applications, as well as guidance in the preparation and submission of documents. It can also provide attorneys to represent Holocaust survivors in lawsuits and petitions regarding their rights.
The Justice Ministry can aid in helping survivors gain recognition and modify previous claims.
Veterans of the war against Nazi Germany can also be recognized, including those that fought in Allied armies and partisan units.
Some survivors and fighters suffer from health issues and conditions due to Nazi oppression. They can receive funding for treatment and medical equipment such as glasses, hearing aids, and aid for those with dementia.
According to the Israeli government, disabled survivors can receive aid under the Nazi Persecution Law, if there were held in ghettos, concentration and labor camps, were forced to flee countries, were deported or otherwise suffered restrictions of rights connected to Nazi persecution.
Legal aid can help enact payments retroactively and get reimbursements for fees paid when the benefits were not being properly applied. Additional monetary compensation can be provided in certain conditions, and residual benefits may be available to the child or spouses.
The Justice Ministry said that 2022 saw hundreds of survivors of the Siege of Leningrad recognized for the first time and an increase in recognition for partisans.
Almost 150 veterans of the war were recognized through Justice Ministry legal aid, the ministry said on Monday, some of them having served in the Pacific theatre in battles against Imperial Japan. According to Vardi, the average age of fighters is now over 95, and many of them may not even know Hebrew.
On Monday, the Justice Ministry shared the story of one legal aid applicant, Reuben Kelly, an 83-year-old survivor from Rangoon. Rangoon was the capital of Burma, and Kelly's was the first case the legal aid team dealt with for those who had escaped Japan-occupied Burma.
Kelly fled from Burma for India in 1942, and his family fell ill with malaria. The ministry said that many refugees did not reach India.
"As of today, I'm the only one alive, I didn't ask to be recognized as a survivor, because I was afraid to talk about it," said Kelly.
The Justice Ministry appealed to Holocaust survivors and veterans in the fight against the Nazis to contact them for legal aid to explore their rights, free of charge. They can call 073-3927788 or visit the legal aid website.