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Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel says 900 survivors died of COVID-19

179,600 people defined as Holocaust survivors live in Israel, around 850 of them aged 100 or more, according to Central Bureau of Statistics

A Holocaust survivor shows his prisoner number tattooed on his arm. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A Holocaust survivor shows his prisoner number tattooed on his arm. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Around 900 Holocaust survivors in Israel have died of COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced on Tuesday, a day ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Some 3,500 Holocaust survivors were known to have contracted the coronavirus, meaning that the reported death rate among survivors was 17 percent, only slightly higher than the 16% death rate seen in the general population for the same age group.

Israeli state agencies define as survivors anyone “exposed” to the Nazi regime, including those who lived in countries conquered by Nazi Germany or were under direct Nazi influence in 1933-1945, as well as refugees who fled those areas due to the Nazis.

The report said that at the end of 2020, there were 179,600 people defined as Holocaust survivors living in Israel. An additional 3,000 people were recognized as survivors in 2020, while 17,000 died, including the 900 virus victims.

Joseph Zalman Kleinman, 92, a Holocaust survivor, gestures to the arm he prefers to receive the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, at the Clalit Health Services vaccination center at a sports arena in Jerusalem, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Nearly two-thirds of those, or 64 percent, hail from Europe, while 11% are from Iraq, 16% from Morocco, 4% from Tunisia and 2% each from Algeria and Libya.

Those from the Muslim world fled Nazi-inspired pogroms, such as the 1941 Farhud pogrom in Iraq, or Nazi-controlled or Nazi-allied territories where they faced restrictions on daily life, such as in Vichy-ruled Morocco and Tunisia.

Holocaust survivor Miriam Linial, center left, stands while the two-minute-long siren sounds during an annual Holocaust memorial ceremony held outside this year because of the coronavirus, in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Israel, April 21, 2020 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Just 1.8% of the survivor population, or some 3,200 people, hails from Germany and Austria.

About 40% of the survivors had immigrated to Israel by 1951, and more than a third in the last wave of immigration in the 1990s from the former Soviet Union.

As women generally outlive men, they make up 60% of the survivor population. The percentage of women rises as each cohort ages.

Today’s survivors are all over 75 — World War II ended 75 years ago — and around 17% of them are over the age of 90.

Around 850 Holocaust survivors living in Israel at the end of 2020 were aged 100 or more.

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