(JNS.org) Some 2,000 Holocaust survivors reportedly approached the Israeli Justice Ministry’s Legal Aid Department over the last year for assistance, after lawyers who were hired to help them claim benefits billed them at rates higher than the funds they would receive.
According to the survivors, the lawyers misled them and did not explain the full significance of the power of attorney documents they signed. Israel Radio reported Wednesday that hundreds of repossession claims have been filed against Holocaust survivors by a small group of these lawyers.
Gilad Samama, an attorney who heads the Justice Ministry’s Legal Aid Department, told Israel Hayom that 40 percent of the cases have been closed, either in court or after the Holocaust survivors agreed to pay the fees they owed without taking the matter to court.
In December 2014, an amendment to Israel’s Nazi persecution law went into effect, limiting the fees that could be imposed on Holocaust survivors who hired assistance in filing benefits claims. The amendment allowed for the retroactive correction of fees until December 2015.
This past December, the Legal Aid Department published notices in various media outlets, reminding survivors that they had about a month left to reclaim the money they had spent. Some 1,000 Holocaust survivors approached the Legal Aid Department in December alone. The department is now looking to extend the amendment by another year.