Itongadol.- State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on Wednesday published a report on public complaints with a special focus on the mistreatment of Holocaust survivors and problems with the government\’s handling of special education students, while also covering a myriad of other issues.
Comptroller report flags neglect of Holocaust survivors
Shapira presented the report to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein at 8:30 a.m.
"The Ombudsman\’s Office is an important tool for cleaning house and repairing injustices," Edelstein said. "I call on citizens to continue using this tool."
Edelstein added that people should not see complaining as a nuisance or petty. Rather, they should remember that one complaint from a Holocaust survivor, for example, can help thousands of others, and one parent\’s complaint can change the entire education system.
Regarding Holocaust survivors, Shapira said that complaints had focused on defects in the process of addressing requests to be recognized and receive benefits as a survivor.
He also noted complaints regarding the delay and process for increasing payments to survivors once they got sicker and became entitled to increased payments as well as failure to grant discounts to survivors entitled to deductions on the costs of pharmaceuticals.
Shapira said that "recognizing the suffering that Holocaust survivors have endured, their advanced age and the commitments made to them by Israeli society," he would "do all he could in order to aid them to realize their rights promptly."
Regarding special education students, the report showed that in 2012, parents of children with intellectual disabilities in the southern city of Netivot had complained to the municipality for not funding long school days for their children, something created significant obstacles in their daily lives.
The Netivot municipality had first dismissed the request on the grounds of an insufficient budget, but ended up addressing the matter after parents had pointed out that according to the law, local authorities are required to fund at least a quarter of the expenses for long school days of children with intellectual disabilities.
The report noted that 2012 was a record in many statistical areas with 15,123 complaints submitted – an increase of 1.63 percent from 2011.
But Shapira viewed the increase in complaints as a positive sign.
"One of the reasons for the increasing trend [of complaints] in recent years is the actions of the regional bureaus," in increasing accessibility to the general public, said Shapira.
He said that in recent years, the Comptroller\’s Office had opened regional locations "across the nation, in Beersheba, Nazareth, Nazareth Illit, Lod" and in December, had even opened its newest office in Kiryat Shemona.
Shapira appeared to be highlighting one of his key goals of reaching out to the weaker socio-economic sectors of society, emphasizing that he could better defend the interests of these sectors, especially in the periphery, if they had easier access to submit complaints.
Next, Shapira highlighted the success of arbitration in resolving a variety of societal disputes.
He said that, "experience had taught that this was one of the most efficient ways of resolving disputes between the individual and the authorities, and had yielded solutions which satisfied the positions of both sides" of disputes.
Shapira expressed an interest in widening the arbitration trend as well as employing more social workers regarding disputes.
The report also addresses a wide range of complaints: from discrimination against women to corruption, to a review of every government ministry and several major cities to failures by the police in honoring suspects rights to failures related to immigration and border issues.