Public Complaints Against State Reach Record High

Out of the 13,976 complaints, the largest number were against the National Insurance Institute (1,332), followed by Israel Police (689).

A record number of public complaints - almost 14,000 - were submitted to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss in 2010, according to the Ombudsman's annual report which was presented to the Knesset yesterday.

Out of the 13,976 complaints, the largest number were against the National Insurance Institute (1,332 ), followed by Israel Police (689 ), the Finance Ministry (482 ), Interior Ministry (459 ), Justice Ministry (435 ) and the Israel Defense Forces (387 ).

Most of the complaints - 26 percent - were about defects in public service, including debt collection, tax refunds, personal status issues, pension payments, etc.

Lindenstrauss found that, of the complaints that had been fully investigated last year, 28 percent were justified.

Sixty-eight complaints were from people whose employers took steps against them for exposing corruption in the organization they worked for. These included complaints by six internal comptrollers who complained of measures taken against them for doing their job.

During 2010, Lindenstrauss issued nine orders to protect individuals who had exposed corruption, to prevent their employers from acting against them.

One such order was issued to protect a Haifa parking inspector whom the city tried to fire after he revealed that inspectors refrained from issuing parking tickets to cronies, or canceled tickets already issued to them. He also revealed the inspectors had to fill a daily quota of tickets.

According to a complaint by a Holocaust survivor, born in 1912, the NII found she was receiving a stipend she had not declared in her application for an old-age allocation. The NII told her she had accumulated a NIS 250,000 debt and was deducting 20 percent from her old-age allocation and every other payment to cover the debt.

In October 2009, the NII confiscated the woman's bank account and providence fund, and demanded she pay the remainder of the debt immediately.

The woman died last year, before the Ombudsman had finished dealing with her complaint.

The NII said that following an examination of a similar complaint, it would not confiscate the accounts of needy elderly people or of Holocaust survivors in the future, and revoked the confiscation of the deceased woman's account.

Two complaints were about a school's refusal to issue matriculation certificates to students whose parents owed the school money.

Education Ministry regulations forbid penalizing students for a parent's act, including delaying their matriculation certificates. The Ombudsman told the ministry to advise schools they may not withhold certificates.