Around 240,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel, most of them over eighty years old. However, one-third of those who survived the ghettos and concentration camps, or hid from the Nazis, are now living below the official poverty line of about £200 per month.
Many find it difficult to pay for medication and treatment for ailments resulting from years of starvation and torture. The issue has recently been taken to the streets in Israel with demonstrations outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
Members of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, who lobby for improved support, say survivors have higher-than-average rates of cancer, osteoporosis and mental illness, and are often without networks of family to help them.
The Israeli government had proposed a new state Holocaust survivors’ benefit of 83 shekels (about £10) a month, on top of regular pensions but the suggestion has been rejected.
Most survivors receive compensation payments from the German government, but among the most poverty-stricken are thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who survived the war but do not qualify for such benefits.