Most Israelis worry they can’t pay their bills, government survey finds

Central Bureau of Statistics also finds 26% of people over age 21 report deterioration of mental health during coronavirus crisis, 21% have reduced food intake to save money

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

A young woman helps an elderly lady with her grocery bags at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, February 14, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
A young woman helps an elderly lady with her grocery bags at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, February 14, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Increasing numbers of Israelis have reported feeling anxiety and concerns over their ability to pay their bills during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Sunday, releasing the results of a poll measuring what it called “civil resilience.”

According to the CBS study, conducted earlier this month, 42 percent of Israelis (around 2.4 million people) reported feeling anxiety, up 9% since a previous survey conducted as the country eased its national lockdown in mid-May.

Meanwhile 21% of respondents reported experiencing a feeling of depression (up from 16% in May) while 19% of the population expressed feelings of loneliness, and 26% said that their mental health had “worsened” or “significantly worsened” during the crisis.

Furthermore, 8.5% of respondents aged 21 and up said that their non-mental health had deteriorated, a figure which rose to 13% for those 65-years old and up.

Illustrative: People wearing face masks walk and shop at the Mamilla mall near Jerusalem’s Old City on July 6, 2020 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Mental health worries were accompanied by fiscal anxieties, with 55% of the general population reporting concerns regarding their ability to cover their monthly expenses. Among Israeli-Arabs, this number rose to 65%.

Food insecurity also rose during the second wave, with 21% (33% among Arabs) stating that they or someone in their household had reduced their food intake during the crisis to save money, up from 14% in May.

The poll also found that 80% of Israelis said that they largely comply with coronavirus regulations, but 19% found them to be unclear.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has hit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hard, chipping away at his popularity and leaving a majority of Israelis dissatisfied with his performance, according to two television polls on Sunday night.

Protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem on July 25, 2020. Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

On Saturday evening, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Israel, demanding that he resign over his indictment on graft charges and attacking his government’s record on handling the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a Channel 13 poll released on July 12, 61% of Israelis disapproved of Netanyahu’s overall handling of the COVID-19 crisis, and 75% were unhappy with how his government has handled the economic fallout of the pandemic. Only 16% said that they were satisfied with the government’s economic response.

This marked a stark reversal from how the public viewed the prime minister in April, during the first wave of the virus, when 70% were either satisfied or very satisfied with his performance.

The Israeli Employment Service has said the country’s unemployment rate is currently over 20%.

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