There were more than 1,700,000 Israeli citizens, including one-third of children, living below the poverty line in 2012, a slight drop from the previous year, according to a report prepared by the National Insurance Institute released Tuesday.
The study, presented to President Shimon Peres, counted 439,000 households below the poverty line, comprising 1,754,700 people in total.
The number, some 21 percent of Israel’s population of over 8 million, represents a 0.5% drop from 2011.
According to the report, the country’s poor includes 817,200 children, or 33% of minors in the country, and 180,000 elderly citizens, representing 23% of the elderly population.
The percentage of children in poverty dropped slightly as compared to 2011, but the figure for elderly poor increased by 3%, explained by an increase in the cost of living and changes in government pensions for the elderly, according to Ynet.
Peres tweeted that the number of children living in poverty reflected poorly on Israeli society.
The fact that there are 800,000 hungry children in Israel is disturbing. If there are poor among us, it reflects on us as a society #Poverty
— PresidentPeres (@PresidentPeres) December 17, 2013
The poverty line, as defined by the report, was dependent on the size of a household. For example, a single person making less than NIS 2,820 ($800) gross a month was defined as poor, while for a family of four, a gross monthly income of less than NIS 7,219 ($2,019) was considered below the poverty line.
Although Israel has maintained excellent economic growth in recent years, income disparity has remained very high. A May OECD report indicated that Israel has the highest poverty rate among OECD member countries, and ranks in the top five in terms of income disparity.