Skip to main content

The true face of Israeli poverty

Reports published lately indicate a growing number of families that are under the poverty line, while experts warn of an even worse report next year, unless drastic measures are taken.
Read in 

One day this last year, I was invited to visit a development town of Kiryat Malachi in the south of the country, to see the cruel face of poverty from up close. This time, the encounter was especially difficult because the impoverished faces were those of schoolchildren. I saw 8-to-10-year-olds as well as youths just a bit older. I arrived in the morning, a few minutes before the children were summoned to enter the school. They waited in the large yard and, when the bell rang, they ran to their classrooms. However, the steps leading to the classrooms were too narrow to accommodate them all. They pushed one another and used their elbows to get to class on time. It took a 8 minutes until all the schoolchildren were in their seats. A few were still panting to catch their breath, others were irritable and annoyed.

The overcrowding was not confined to the stairs. Almost 40 pupils were crammed into each room. In one of the classrooms, the pupils in the first row sat only half a meter (1.6 feet) away from the blackboard. They would need to have elastic necks to keep their heads erect while looking at the blackboard. The air conditioners were not functioning and the heat was unbearable. Outside, it was more than 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.