There are more than one and half million handicapped people living in Israel and their income is much lower than the national average, according to a report published by the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Justice Ministry.
According to the report, 60% of disabled people in Israel live on the edge of poverty and one-third of them feel lonely. The report was issued ahead of the International Day of Disabled Persons, which takes place Thursday.
The report revealed that almost no change has taken place over the past few years in the gap between Israelis suffering from disabilities and the rest of the population, despite new laws and extensive activity on the part of governmental elements and social organizations aimed at improving the situation.
It should be noted, however, that the gaps have been slightly reduced.
Shmuel Haimovich, the commissioner for equal rights of persons with disabilities, addressed the data in a conversation with Ynet. "In an era in which social frameworks are being torn open and an expression of the 'self' is being emphasized, we must be twice as careful and sensitive towards the human need to be a part of society," he said.
"We must all be open and allow this desire to be implemented. We believe that by locating obstructions and obstacles, removing them and even preventing them, an opportunity will be given for reasonable and equal conduct in daily life, in housing, in employment, in education, in public transportation, and in leisure."
Working less, very dependent
The report reveals that more than a million and a half handicapped people lived in Israel in 2007, 721,000 of them in the ages of employment. People with disabilities have a huge labor potential, which is only partially used, the report says.
The education level of disabled people is much lower than the rest of the population. The unemployment rate among people with serious disabilities is 18%, and their income is much lower than average. Sixty percent of them are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Only 35% of people with disabilities use a computer, compared to 72% in the rest of the population. In addition, their integration in economic and social life is limited.
As for the handicapped persons' housing conditions, the report says 15% of them live alone, 26% report that they have no friends, and 31% say they feel lonely on a daily basis compared to only 4% in the rest of the population.
More than 18% of people with serious disabilities (about 75,000) have no one to rely on at a time of emergency. They depend only on the services provided by the authorities.
The disability rate in the Arab society in Israel is double the rate in the Jewish society, where the rate of people suffering from disabilities is considered particularly low, both among ultra-Orthodox Jews and among seculars.