The number of poor in Israel grew during 2011, as the country continued to top the OECD with the largest gap between its wealthy and its poor, a National Insurance Institute (NII) annual report published on Thursday shows. Another worrying trend in the report was a rise in the percentage of the employed among the poor.
Over 1,830,000 Israelis — almost a quarter of the country’s population — lived under the poverty line, including 861,000 children. Both figures were higher than the previous year, with some 24,000 children and a total of 60,000 people slipping into poverty since 2010.
Officials at the National Insurance Institute said the figures weren’t surprising, nor was there a drastic change in the number of people seeking unemployment checks or welfare. However, the officials expressed concern over the fact that Israel was not only unable to close the gap between poor and rich, but was letting it grow.
Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director general of the NII, said the state needed to invest in education, vocational training and other basics if it wanted to close the gap, and ensure that workers’ salaries were a fair living wage.
Some 100 protesters who work for a company hired by the government disrupted the presentation of the report by Welfare Minister Moshe Kahlon, saying that they hadn’t received their salary for the previous month.