Tel Aviv seizes NIS 50,000 in overdue debt from survivor aid group

The Tel Aviv Municipality has placed a lien on more than NIS 50,000 belonging to a social welfare organization that helps Holocaust victims from Romania, due to overdue municipal fees. The money, which was intended for needy families, was seized less than two weeks before a scheduled meeting with municipal officials to resolve the debt, said Ze'ev Schwartz, head of the Organization of Romanian Immigrants in Israel. "We were stunned to discover that the city had placed a lien on the funds while we had a meeting scheduled to resolve the debt," Schwartz said. The debt, which was "more than NIS 50,000," was from overdue property tax and water bills, he said. Schwartz called the municipal move "inflexible and malicious" and appealed to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to intervene. A spokeswoman for the Tel Aviv municipality said Tuesday that the nonprofit organization had a NIS 156,000 debt in property tax, and that over the past several years attempts had been made to reach an arrangement to settle the debt. About 250,000 Holocaust survivors live in the country. Nearly one-third of them live in poverty, Israeli welfare reports have found, prompting a national outcry that triggered a landmark accord for additional government assistance.