Following an announcement that subsidized bread prices would be increased by 3.33%, groups involved with helping low-income segments of the population warned Thursday that "this decision is very damaging to the low-income population" and that "the consequences of the decision will be seen in the next Poverty Report."
The price hike will come into force this Tuesday.
Social Affairs Ministry Director-General Nahum Itzkovitz told Ynet that the ministry and the National Insurance Institute would examine the consequences of the price increase, one which follows an increase in gas and water tariffs, and present them before new Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon.
"Bread is a basic component in every person's food basket," Itzkovitz noted, "people can't manage without it, people will purchase bread whatever the price and so of course, this has direct impact on available income."
"On Sunday we will present the minister with the findings and recommendations for actions that will need to be taken in light of the findings," Itzkovitz stated, "after we analyze the situation, we will be better informed on the tools that will be needed in order to prevent the hike from hurting the low-income population".
Rina, a teacher from the north of Israel, says that she sees more and more poor children in the school where she teaches. "This process of hiking water, gas and bread prices makes it very on needy families.
"We see fewer parents paying the school fees and we know that we can't press the issue since they literally have nothing to eat. We give out food vouchers for the school cafeteria to those in need but the number of children requesting the vouchers grows daily."
Rina has been exposed to the students' poverty first hand. "I saw empty refrigerators, homes with no furniture. It's very sad. It makes me feel quite helpless. I feel as if the higher ups have no understanding of the situation and what they are doing. The moment they ruin these children's future, perpetuating poverty, they are destroying this country."
The Social Workers' Association has expressed concern over the planned price hike and said that the move would lead more and more of the needy segments of society to turn to the welfare agencies.
"The consequences of the bread price hike which joins the recent increase in water and gas prices, which also caused public transportation prices to increase, will be seen in the next Poverty Report when thousands of families will join the ranks of the poor as a result of the government's ongoing policy to hurt the weakest segments of society," stated Chairman of the Social Workers' Association Itzik Peri.
According to Peri, "the basic foodstuff price hike obligates the government to see the consequences – long lines at the welfare agencies and soup kitchens of starving people."
The 'Yedid' friendly society claims that recently, they have had to deal with hundreds of appeals from citizens who simply can't pay their water bills.
"If we put together the public transportation price increase and the gas price increase, we're back in the days of Netanyahu 2003 – hurting the disadvantaged population," noted the society's Deputy Director General Ran Melamed. "The government must increase subsidization for basic products and lower water prices."
Eran Weintrob, director-general of Latet, an organization which brings together hundreds of friendly societies that provide food for the needy, told Ynet: "The hardships faced by Israel's poor is getting worse and the gap between them and 'normative Israel' is almost unbridgeable.
"Social protest is part of the culture in European countries and it's spreading to our neighbor countries. If Netanyahu continues in his neo-capitalistic policy which abandons the weak, the popular protest will reach us as well."
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