Some 200 disabled people demonstrated Tuesday evening to raise the disability pension to the same level as minimum wage.
During the demonstration, which was approved by the police, protestors blocked the exit to the Ayalon Highway from Arlozerov Street, as well as Namir Street in Tel Aviv. At one point, the demonstrators advanced towards the Ayalon freeways, but they were blocked from reaching the main road.
MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz), who came to support demonstrators, said, "I call on you to be united and go all the way. This is the war of independence for all the disabled. Knesset members have to look here and understand that their chair depends on their support of the bill." The protesters even waved signs and had a mock coffin reading: "The government is burying us alive."
One of the demonstrators said, "As a son of two disabled parents, why does my father have to beg? Why do the disabled people have to beg in the State of Israel? We came here and we will go to the home of Finance Minister Kahlon and fight until we win. We demand social justice and not charity. My mother has epilepsy, my father is an amputee; the time has come for the people of Israel to wake up. It's not a struggle for the handicapped. Handicapped people can be both right-wingers and left-wingers. This is a struggle for the entire people of Israel."
Another demonstrator said: "We don't want incentives, we want money to buy food." Another participant in the demonstration said, "It seems that someone is very comfortable leaving us in poverty, with the disability allowance that is not even enough for crumbs. People collect bottles and beg for handouts. The disabled people flock to the polls and on Election Day we will remember who put us in a deep freeze for 10 years, we will recall those who time after time blocked the law of Ilan Gilon."
It appears that the Committee for the Examination of Disability Allowances, headed by Prof. Avi Simhon, will recommend increasing the allowances by hundreds of shekels only. It appears that the committee appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will recommend an increase in the allowances at a rate significantly lower than that recommended by the Zelekha Committee, which submitted its conclusions last month. Another recommendation will be that only people defined as 75% disabled and upwards, who are defined as poor will receive the increase in the pension.
Netanyahu did not accept the recommendations of the Zelekha Committee, whose main recommendation was to increase disability allowances to NIS 4,000 in several stages, and appointed another team headed by Simhon. The heads of the disabled organizations expressed strong opposition to the recommendations of the committee and demanded, as stated, to equalize the disability benefits to the minimum wage—NIS 5,000.
According to Alex Friedman, the leader of the struggle said, "Unfortunately, and to my disappointment, the 'social' Minister Moshe Kahlon threw the disabled at the mercy of the prime minister who decided not to make a decision. The rumors about Simhon's recommendations are proof that in the eyes of the finance minister, the disabled are simply waste, otherwise he would intervene and not allow it to happen. I hope that the High Court of Justice supports our struggle to raise the allowances to the minimum wage, and we will continue to act with all our might until the disabled in Israel can live with dignity."
MK Itzik Shmuli (the Zionist Camp) said in response: "Simhon's recommendations are a mockery to the poor and an insult to the disabled who have been demonstrating for months for the right to live in dignity. The prime minister is simply crowding the finance minister's decision, and instead of silence, I call upon Kahlon to struggle and if necessary, to rock the government on its foundations. The allowances must be raised to at least the minimum wage level, and we will fight for that."