Thousands of social workers blocked one of the main streets in Tel Aviv to traffic on Tuesday as the strike over low wages and overload during the coronavirus outbreak, enters its third week.
Israel's social workers have been on strike since June 6 after failing to reach an agreement with the Finance Ministry on improved working conditions. The workers say the salaries in some instances hover below the minimum wage while the number of cases during the COVID-19 crisis has skyrocketed.
The head of the Social Workers' Union, Inbal Hermoni, said as long as the strike is ongoing, thousands of citizens cannot access valuable welfare services.
"For 16 days, there was no one to help the woman domestic suffering from domestic violence, who can't leave the place where her life is in danger," said Hermoni. "There's no one to help at-risk youth, elders in isolation, or write custody agreements - allowing divorced couples to freely use their children against one another."
Hermoni added this time the workers "will not settle for crumbs" like in previous year, although she regrets that thousands of cases go untreated as a result.
One of the cases Hermoni referred to was the alleged rape of a 9-year-old boy at a Holon country club on Monday.
Prof. Carmit Katz of the School of Social Work at Tel Aviv University said the boy must first see a juvenile investigator, who is a social worker in training, so he receives proper treatment after experiencing a traumatic event and provides an accurate description of the incident.
"His entire world fell apart and it's the social worker's job to fix it and show him that this is a moral society. A society that is willing to take care of him after he went through such an injustice," said Katz.
"When that is not the case, the child starts to forget and as more and more people talk to him about what happened and pollute his narrative, the testimony he gives in the criminal proceedings could be skewed."
General Federation of Labor Chairman Arnon Ben-David announced on Tuesday that other sectors of the economy are expected to join the strike as a sign of solidarity, if the deadlock between the Social Worker's Union and the Finance Ministry is not resolved by the end of the day.