A new report presented to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin this week has shown a sudden 50 percent increase in the number of Israeli households living in poverty, as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic start to bite.
Financial hardship and food insecurity has shot up in recent months, according to the annual Alternative Poverty Report released by Latet, a non-profit organisation that provides welfare and food aid to the needy.
It shows that in 2020 the number of Israeli families living in poverty jumped from 20.1 percent to 29.3 percent, which represents a total of 850,000 households. The findings are widely regarded as being more conclusive and authoritative than the government’s official statistics, which measure poverty by income alone.
The findings indicate the extent to which wealth inequality in Israel has been exacerbated by the pandemic, affecting areas including health and education, with more than 650,000 Israeli households unable to regularly put food on the table.
Latet’s report also found that during the pandemic, Israel’s middle class shrunk by 15.5 percent. Half of all Israelis reported “significant economic damage” while one in five reported “significant health damage” in their households.
“The surge in poverty rates confirms the most pessimistic economic forecasts,” said Latet president Gilles Darmon.
“The virus has upset the delicate economic balance and pushed tens of thousands of new families into economic hardship and poverty, but it is the state that has created the conditions for this fragility, by previously refusing to invest significantly in those families to build social resilience.”
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