JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 1.7 million people in Israel were living in poverty in 2012 — some 23.5 percent of the population — marking a slight dip over the previous year.
The annual poverty report, released this week by Israel’s National Insurance Institute and the Central Bureau of Statistics, noted that 817,000 children were among those living in property that year. In 2011, more than 1.8 million people and nearly 861,000 children lived in poverty.
Some 439,500 families, or 19.4 percent of Israeli families, lived below the poverty line in 2012, and 5 percent of those families had two workers or more. Arab families made up nearly 37 percent of Israel’s poor households. The highest poverty rates were in Jerusalem.
Some 180,000 elderly citizens lived in poverty in 2012, representing 23 percent of Israel’s elderly.
“There are indications that in 2012 there was a certain improvement in the poverty situation and inequality generally, particularly among the young and in smaller families,” according to the report.
Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel, a food rescue organization that helps feed poor Israeli families, said the statistics have not changed in years, “and it’s not a case of no news is good news.”
“It’s indicative of the lack of planning and lack of changes being implemented to alter the poverty crisis in Israel,” Kroch said. “The wording of the report gives you the sense that they are referring to products and not individuals; the people living in poverty. It’s as if the people have gotten lost in the statistics.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres, who was presented with the report Tuesday, tweeted his disappointment: “The fact that there are 800,000 hungry children in Israel is disturbing. If there are poor among us, it reflects on us as a society #Poverty.”