One out of every five Israeli children, or about 470,000 youngsters, lived below the poverty line last year, according to a report released this week by an independent organization that monitors child welfare statistics.
The National Council for the Welfare of the Child said that the highest rates of poverty among children were found in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv. Both areas are home to large concentrations of fervently Orthodox families.
Dr. Yitzhak Cadman, executive director of the council, said child poverty has been steadily growing in Israel over the past three years.
He noted a widening gap between children who receive proper health care and education, and those who do not. “If they do not get the basic (resources) to prepare them for adult life, they will be unable to contribute to society,” he said.
This week’s report conflicted with numbers in another report released last month by the National Insurance Institute. According to that report, an estimated 279,000 Israeli children were living in poverty. Overall, 12 percent of Israel’s population, or some 648,000 Israelis, lived below the poverty line in 1993, according to the institute’s figures.