About one-third of Israeli citizens live below the official poverty line, the Latet organisation's Alternative Poverty Report revealed on Monday, Arabs48.com said yesterday. Those caught in the poverty trap include around one million children.
According to the report, 2.5m Israelis are classed as poor; that's 29.1 per cent of the population. The figure is made up of 1.46m adults and 1.06m children; one in every three children is poor.
Latet, which runs the largest food distribution network for the poor in Israel, said that it asks people to answer five questions covering education, residence, food, health and living expenses. If respondents answer "yes" to at least three questions they are regarded as "poor".
Poverty is one of the biggest issues facing the Israeli government, with an 18 per cent increase in poor people since last year.
The report also found that 38 per cent of Israelis suffer from a lack of education opportunities below graduate level. One quarter of Israelis apparently have trouble meeting their living expenses.
Moreover, of those requiring food aid to exist, some 65 per cent have large debts. More than half of the children in such circumstances cannot afford to buy school books and equipment.
The level of homelessness stands at around 15 per cent, while 9.2 per cent of those receiving aid either beg or scavenge for food in bins; 70 per cent cannot afford to buy medicine; and 58 per cent do not invite friends to visit them in an effort to hide their poverty. Worryingly, around 13 per cent said that they have tried to commit suicide as a direct result of being poor.
Despite the shocking statistics, said Arabs48.com, the situation in Israel is better than in many developed countries such as Australia, France, Russia and the United States.