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According to the Wages Report for 2006, which lists salaries in the public sector, doctors earn the most, followed by lawyers and defense officials. Teachers ranked near the bottom of the heap. "Wage levels for teachers are low in comparison to academics employed by the government, in light of the unique structure of their employment and scope of their work week," Eli Cohen said.

The annual report, published yesterday by Ministry of Finance wages director Eli Cohen, found that the leading wage earners in the medical system were from Nahariya, Safed, Hadera and Ashkelon hospitals, as well as Sheba and Tel Hashomer in central Israel.

Nearly 1,650 civil servants earned pre-tax monthly salaries exceeding NIS 25,000. The average monthly gross wage in the ministries in 2006 was NIS 11,637, up from NIS 11,013 in 2005.

Who earns the most? In 2006 that was Judge Tova Strassberg-Cohen, who grosses a monthly NIS 60,842 (up handily from NIS 46,914 in 2005) as judicial ombudsman and retired Supreme Court justice. In addition, she received provisions from her employer (the state) totaling NIS 204,037. Her total cost to her employer in 2006 was NIS 934,147.

The defense ministry administration director's gross monthly salary was just a hair over NIS 60,000 that year.

The state had 87,000 teachers in its employment in 2006, with the top ten percentile earners making an average of NIS 10,804, also down from 2005 levels of NIS 11,310, with the lower percentile earners making just NIS 4,327.

If teachers are among the lowest wage earners in the civil service, 2,461 workers in the defense ministry customarily earn the highest salaries, averaging NIS 16,919 (up from NIS 16,470 in 2005) - 2.3 times the average monthly wages of NIS 7,352 earned by teachers that year, down from NIS 7,440 the year before). In addition, 3.6% of defense ministry employees were employed by special contract, and earned monthly salaries of NIS 5,896 - NIS 32,502 before taxes.

Women in the civil service continue to earn less than their male peers, on average, in spite of promises to eliminate the phenomenon. Also, their pension rights are relatively impaired. Nevertheless, wage equality has been achieved in personal contract and senior level employment salaries, with a slight advantage to women.