The Israeli cabinet approved a plan on Sunday, in advance of the Israeli government’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, to take better care of the 193,000 Holocaust survivors in living in the country.
The billion shekel allocation comes just a few days after a report was published saying that a quarter of the Israeli survivors are living in poverty.
“It is our moral obligation to ensure that Holocaust survivors among us will live the rest of their lives with respect and blessings,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in his opening remarks at the cabinet meeting.
The Cabinet gave the go-ahead to the Finance and Welfare Ministries, which drew up the plan, to complete the necessary legislative amendments within 21 days, in time to be voted on during the upcoming Knesset session.
The national plan aims to reducing the bureaucratic obstacles faced by survivors in applying for benefits, and to raise their standard of living.
Included in the 10-point plan is an allocation of NIS 277 million will help to end 61 years of inequality in the treatment of 18,500 Holocaust survivors who came to Israel after 1953. Currently, survivors who made aliyah post-1953 receive allowances ranging from NIS 1,500 to NIS 1,800 per month. Under the new plan these allowances would increase to a range of NIS 1,825 to NIS 5,400 per month.
The reform would also raise the minimum allowances for all Holocaust survivors receiving monthly pensions from NIS 1,825 to NIS 2,200. This NIS 166 million allotment will benefit some 85,000 Holocaust survivors and victims of Nazi persecution.
The plan allocates an estimated NIS 130 million for a 100% discount on pharmaceuticals included in the health basket, compared to 50% deductible received today.
Furthermore, the proposed plan calls for some 9,000 needy Holocaust survivors to receive an annual grant of NIS 2,000, estimated at a total of NIS 18 million.
Welfare services in existing day centers as well as doctor’s home visits and emotional and psychological care for Holocaust survivors, estimated at NIS 70 million, will be provided.
Hundreds took part in the “March for the Living” in Tel Aviv to call attention to the plight of survivors and promote awareness of their eligibility for benefits.
“Most survivors living in Israel today are unaware of all the rights and benefits to which they are entitled, since these [rights] are scattered among several agencies and are updated and changed frequently,” said Aviv Silverman, director of Aviv Lenitzolei Hashoah (Spring for Survivors of the Holocaust).
“I call on anyone who knows a Holocaust survivor to contact us and make sure they receive all their rights. We have set a goal — that on this Holocaust Memorial Day no survivor will remain behind,” said Silverman.