Dozens of Holocaust survivors
demonstrated in Jerusalem on Sunday as the cabinet convened for its weekly meeting. The protesters demanded NIS 16 million in reimbursements for medical bills.
They carried signs reading "Steinitz,
I hope you're warm at night because I'm cold."
According to data published by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust
Victims, the past year has seen 35 Holocaust survivors die while waiting for the compensation.
The Finance Ministry said
in response that it has increased budgets for Shoah survivors. The ministers did not respond to the claims during the cabinet meeting.
Last month it was revealed that the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims suspended the transfer of funds to over 8,000 survivors eligible for benefits.
The frozen funds were meant to reimburse survivors for medical bills of up to NIS 4,000 (roughly $1,000), which they have already paid out of their own pocket. To be eligible for the benefits, the survivors' monthly income must not exceed NIS 8,158 ($2,100). Some of the services and equipment covered include dental, hearing aides and prescription glasses.
Among the protesters was also Avram Grant,
the former manager of the Israel national soccer team and the son of a Holocaust survivor. "I am here on the name of my father and his slain family members," Grant told Ynet. "They're not asking for luxury items, but for medical aids, the most basic things."
Karol Godelfeder, 82, said he is waiting for reimbursements for his hearing aid. "It cost me thousands of shekels. I filed a request several months ago and the money never came," he said. "I need that money. I want to pay my children back but medications are expensive."
Another survivor said, "I underwent eye surgery and need medications and a hearing aid . We suffer as the state looks on with indifference."
The Finance Ministry said in response that together with the foundation it has significantly increased the survivors' budget. "For instance in 2009 the foundation was allocated NIS 159 million and in 2010 it received NIS 170 million. Several days ago the foundation approved the allocation of an extra NIS 9 million," a statement said.
"While the foundation is independent, we expect the money to be directly transferred to the survivors and not be used for management costs." The ministry said that an independent check by an accounting firm showed that the foundation needs to improve its finances.