The number of Holocaust survivors in Israel requiring financial assistance has risen in recent years, according to a report released by the national ombudsman on Monday.
The State Comptroller report, a follow-up to a 2017 report it issued, also faulted authorities for not sufficiently “mapping the needs” of Holocaust survivors or using all the funds designated for them.
According to the report, there are now 51,175 survivors who receive yearly grants — 70 percent of the total — who require additional financial benefits “to live with dignity,” up from 67% in 2017. Along with those who survived the Holocaust in Europe, the figure includes “victims of harassment” — survivors of the 1941 “Farhud” pogrom in Baghdad and Jews who lived in Algeria and Morocco when anti-Semitic laws were in effect under the pro-Nazi Vichy regime.
“The Finance Ministry and the [Holocaust Survivors’] Authority still have not found a solution to improving the financial situation,” State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman wrote, adding that the problem “was not fixed and even worsened.”
Englman noted that at the time of the last report, the Holocaust Survivors’ Authority was not conducting in-depth survey of survivors’ physical, mental and financial needs. Though it has since designated funds to do so, only 22% have been surveyed.
He said between 2018 and 2019, the Welfare Ministry only disbursed 30% of the NIS 30 million ($8.8 million) set aside for survivors eligible to receive income assistance.
“Due to the partial utilization of ‘the plan for the needy’ budget, survivors were prevented from receiving services that could improve their welfare,” Englman said.
The report also said the Finance Ministry and Holocaust Survivors’ Authority had not worked to provide additional nursing assistance to those fighting the Nazis, criticized an inter-ministerial team set up to coordinate assistance for Holocaust survivors for not holding regular meetings, and expressed concerns of a lack of funding for distress buttons.
“Throughout history Israeli governments have worked extensively to help Holocaust survivors in Israel,” Engelman said. “But despite this praiseworthy activity, some of the needs of Holocaust survivors haven’t been properly provided for. Time is running out, the number of survivors is declining.”
He added: “[Survivors] who experienced the events of the Holocaust are entitled to live the rest of their lives honorably and receive the recognition they deserve.”