Disability allowance of $667 per month has remained unchanged for the last 16 years in Israel. To add to the woes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has increased the allowance marginally and said that it would not increase further. Also, the increased allowance will come into effect only in January next year.
It has led to several protests by activists with disabilities in the last few months in Israel. The disabled groups have demanded the Prime Minister to increase the monthly disability stipend to match the minimum wages. The Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and the Prime Minister have refused to raise it to the level of minimum wage and said that the government would not support it. However, prominent coalition members such as Social Services and Labor Minister Haim Katz, Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni and coalition chairman David Bitan support the proposal and want the allowance to be raised up to the minimum wage. In fact, Gafni has vowed not to approve any financial decisions until the disability benefit gets increased.
Several protestors blocked the Latrun Interchange between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. For the first time, the police fined the protestors after removing them peacefully. After being fined NIS 500 each, one of the NGOs, Disabled Panthers said, ”We would stop blocking the highways after having a meeting with the police. We will then decide what the next step that needs to get executed is."
A spokesman for the police, Micky Rosenfeld, stated that the police were forced to ban the protestors from blocking the highways after receiving complaints from several thousands of commuters who felt trapped between the groups. He also said,” The police have changed their policy related to illegal demonstrations on the roads that disrupt everyday life in various parts of Israel.” Rosenfeld also stated that ”the police units arrived at the place of the protest and promptly removed several vehicles that were blocking the road and allowed the traffic to resume safely.” Furthermore, he said that the police used heightened sensitivity to evacuate protestors on Monday. Several activists cried while talking about their struggle stories to the Zionists Union MKs.