The magic circle: How income-security benefits are denied to the Palestinians of East Jerusalem

On March 21, 2015, Abed slipped and injured his back. He was under doctor’s orders to remain in bed and avoid all physical effort. Therefore, he was unable to present...

On March 21, 2015, Abed slipped and injured his back. He was under doctor’s orders to remain in bed and avoid all physical effort. Therefore, he was unable to present himself at the EB. The NII rejected the documents confirming his sickness on the grounds that this was not enough to prevent him from working. In this way, his ISB was stopped for two months. However, the medical certificate confirming his condition was rejected contrary to protocol, which states that if there is any doubt concerning the medical condition of the claimant, the NII must contact the claimant’s doctor as well as the claimant in order to carry out a thorough assessment. Protocol also requires that the NII doctor give a reason for the rejection. These things were not done in Abed’s case. Only after WAC-MAAN’s intervention was Abed’s absence from the EB accepted and the ISB paid in retrospect. It must be noted that this delay caused Abed great harm, since he had to manage without an income at precisely the time when he was most incapacitated.

Abed suffers from serious backaches when he stands or sits for long periods, and he is able to walk only with a walker. He is now submitting a claim for disability, but until this is approved he must present himself at the EB each week. However, the line at the Bureau is long: it snakes outside the building without any shade from the sun or shelter from the rain, and without any seating. After waiting in this line, each claimant is required to go through a security check, which means waiting in another long line within the building. There are some registry machines, but these are not a solution since the long line for the machines means Abed has to arrive at 6:30 a.m., an hour before the machines are switched on, in order to avoid a long wait; also, the machines at the East Jerusalem branch are often out of order. Yet each claimant is required to see a clerk at least once a month.

Abed has also been mistreated by the security guards. For example, on one occasion he asked to be allowed to enter without waiting in line because of his physical problems. The guard permitted this but kept him standing long at the security check and forced his legs apart roughly and needlessly, causing him great back pain.

 ISBs were withdrawn because claimants were absent for health reasons, with no explanation given and contrary to protocols.

 Najah’s story

Najah underwent fertility treatment, and during the treatment she was also required to undergo some medical treatment which left her bedridden for two weeks on doctor’s orders. During this period her husband submitted her medical documents to the NII. At the end of the month, the two were surprised to discover that her ISB had been withdrawn because she had not presented herself at the EB.

WAC-MAAN intervened and discovered that the medical documents had not even been added to her file, and of course they had not been looked at.

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About Erez Wagner