The Office of the Ombudsman continues to assist citizens even during the coronavirus crisis. Under the guidance of State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman,in his capacity as Ombudsman, the staff of the Office continue to work and assist citizens in distress as a result of faulty treatment or a violation of their rights by government authorities and public bodies. Special emphasis is placed on making information accessible and assisting settlements in the periphery, including those that are Arab-speaking. Furthermore, the Office's staff continue at this time of emergency (as they do routinely) to volunteer and assist the elderly community.
Complaints may be filed with the Office of the Ombudsman via an online form on the Office's website. It is also possible to send a complaint via email at the following address: email@example.com.
The Office is presently doing everything in its power to handle complaints received by it as soon as possible. In light of the situation, the Office is giving priority to the handling of urgent complaints.
For example, during the coronavirus crisis, the staff of the Office assisted citizens who complained about a variety of issues, including the inability to file online forms on the websites of the National Insurance Institute and the Employment Service; difficulties in contacting the Ministry of Health; online exams at institutions of higher education; difficulties encountered by pupils in the implementation of teaching from a distance, etc.
According to Esther Ben-Haim PhD. Adv., Head of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office normally handles some 14,000 complaints a year, on a variety of subjects relating to the violation of rights of the complainants by government authorities and public bodies. The Office's data show that the percentage of complaints of different communities in the social-economic periphery and of Arab-speakers is lower than their percentage of the population. This small number of complaints emanates, among other things, from a variety of obstacles, such as language barriers, lack of awareness of rights, mistrust of the authorities, etc.
The Office of the State Comptroller emphasizes that upon taking up office as State Comptroller and Ombudsman, Englman made it his motto to promote the exhaustion of rights of communities living in the social and geographical periphery of Israel. Within this framework, the State Comptroller has given instructions to increase on-site inspections, promote orientation days, visits and observations at government ministries and local authorities, visits to reception centres and the distribution of questionnaires to the public about the quality of services provided. The involvement of the public will promote the protection of communities worthy of special attention and will focus the work of the Office of the State Comptroller and Ombudsman on issues of significance "in the eyes of the public".