The number of poor in Israel has sharply increased since 2000, with a staggering 34.1 percent of children now living in poverty, according to a report issued Monday by the National Insurance Institute and cited by Haaretz.
A total of 1.58 million people now live in poverty in Israel, half a million more than in 2000, when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took office. The number of poor children has amounted to 738,000, up from 714,000 last year and 482,000 in 2000.
The report indicates that 24.1 percent of Israelis are currently living under the poverty line, up from 18.8 percent in 2000.
The report, which covers the first half of 2005, reveals that there are 403,000 poor families in Israel, representing 20.5 percent of the families in Israel - a figure that is up 9,000 families from last year's report.
On its part, the Musawa Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said that "the data point to a deterioration in poverty among Arab citizens." "Out of every 10 Arab children, 6 are poor. More than 40 percent of the poor people in Israel are Arab," ynet reported.