Israel Sees Spike in Poverty During Pandemic

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
Israelis help prepare food packages for those in need, following the economic difficulties and high unemployment due to restrictions set up to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in July. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The number of Israeli households living under the poverty line has grown by nearly 50% during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an anti-poverty organization’s report published Wednesday.

Israel has seen unemployment surge to over 20% since the country first imposed a nationwide lockdown at the start of the outbreak in March. The country’s vital tourism industry has shrunk to virtually nil and thousands of businesses have closed. To make matters worse, the Israeli government has been at loggerheads over passing a national budget, resulting in major cutbacks to social services.

According to Latet’s report, the number of Israeli households living in poverty rose from 20.1% to 29.3% in 2020. It said an estimated total of 850,000 households in Israel lack essential housing, education, health care and food, with 268,000 falling into poverty since the start of the pandemic.

The report by Israel’s largest anti-poverty NGO was based on the findings of a series of surveys and studies conducted by Latet from July to October 2020.