The Knesset on Monday unanimously voted into law a bill expanding state benefits to thousands of Israelis who survived the death camps and ghettos of World War II.
The state had paid an annual grant of NIS 4,750 ($1,350) to welfare recipients who were recognized by the Finance Ministry as survivors of concentration camps or Nazi-enforced ghettos, a group numbering some 6,000 people in present-day Israel. The new law expands the grant to those victims who are not on welfare, an additional 18,500 people, meaning 24,500 people will now receive the annual grant.
The law is retroactive for 2013, so the additional grantees will receive a retroactive payment of NIS 4,750 for 2013 this month.
The new law also restructures the monthly stipend given to Holocaust survivors totaling NIS 1850 ($525) a month. Previously, the stipend was paid out in vouchers and coupons for various services, but those funds will now be given as a direct deposit into the recipient’s bank account.
MK Haim Katz (Likud), who chairs the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, said the new measures are “helpful to the [Holocaust] survivor population, but are still minimal and not enough. Holocaust survivors need to be cared for and should receive all that they deserve, and not sparingly.”
Also on Monday, the Knesset approved the first reading of a related bill which aims to streamline laws and regulations relating to inheritance and restitution for Holocaust survivors.