April 16, 2007 6:41 a.m. EST

Ryan R. Jones – All Headline News Middle East Correspondent

Jerusalem, Israel (AHN) – As they do every year, Israelis around the country on Monday stopped whatever they were doing and stood in reverent silence for two minutes as air raid sirens blared across the land honoring the six million Jews wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust.

The siren was followed by the traditional and solemn reading in state ceremonies at Israel’s Knesset and Holocaust museum of the names of every Jew killed at the death camps in Europe during World War II.

But Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day this year was as much about the survivors as those who perished.

Israel is home to approximately 250,000 Holocaust survivors, all of whom are now elderly.

According to data presented by Israel’s National Insurance Agency at an emergency government meeting on Sunday, 180,000 of those survivors receive no reparations from Germany or special government support in Israel. Another 20,000 live off of minimal stipends paid by the government.

Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog, who himself comes from a family of Holocaust survivors, told Yediot Ahronot in response that he feels “deeply ashamed.”

“I ask myself – how did we get to a situation where they are not entitled to anything?” questioned the minister. “Now that I’m involved and exposed to this material, I’m naturally affected by it and I really lose sleep over it.”

Herzog said he did not want to make any promises he could not keep, but vowed to rectify the situation.

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