Dozens of World War II veterans attended a Jerusalem march on Sunday marking 65 years since the victory over Nazi Germany. A moment of silence was noted in memory of the soldiers who fell during the war.
A million and-a-half Jews fought in the Allied armies during World War II, including those of the Soviet Union, the United States, Poland and Britain. Tens of thousands of other Jewish troops fought alongside the partisans and the resistance groups. Approximately a quarter of a million Jewish fighters fell during the battles.
"I fought to beat the Nazis and that was what was important for us," 87-year-old Boris Feldman said. Feldman, a proud grandfather of five, made aliyah in 1973 and joined the Military Police at age 51. "It was saving the entire world," he said of their battles in the war. One of his grandchildren became one of Israel's first female combat soldiers.
Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver related her own personal memory of the war. "My father was a lieutenant colonel who went off to fight at the age of 17," Landver said during a ceremony for the veterans in her office.
Living off welfare
Some 5,000 WWII veterans currently live in Israel. Despite the State's recognition of their contribution on Victory Day, sources in the National Veterans Alliance said the government needs to do more for the elderly combatants, the majority of whom live off National Insurance benefits.
"We ask to live our last days in dignity. We don't need gifts," the group's chairman Avraam Grinzeid said. "We would appreciate getting old in better conditions," he added referring to the veterans' reliance on allowances.
The State passed a law in 2000 according to which any elderly combatant would receive NIS 2,000 ($530) per year and a 25% discount in purchasing medicine.
Grinzeid nevertheless claims that the veterans fall between the cracks. "Holocaust survivors get allowances and benefits and we need a moderate addition to our monthly allowance."