Report: Israel punishes Palestinian, migrant workers before protecting rights


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African asylum seekers wait outside the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority office in Bnei Brak, Israel, on February 13, 2018.
Miriam Alster/FLASH90African asylum seekers wait outside the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority office in Bnei Brak, Israel, on February 13, 2018.

An estimated 200,000 Palestinian and migrant workers were employed legally in Israel between 2018-2020

Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority focuses on punishing Palestinian and migrant employees, as well as their employers, rather than protecting their rights, according to an Israeli NGO report.

Kav LaOved – the Workers’ Hotline – showed through data analysis between 2018 and 2020 that the Authority used its powers to punish employers who employed undocumented workers and prohibited the employment of such workers.

The report, which covered proactive enforcement operations by the Authority, found that the agency’s activities are focused on sectors where hardly any Palestinians or migrants are legally employed, according to Haaretz.

It noted that the government body rarely revokes permits to employ migrant workers due to rights violations, but rather issues fines.

In the report, Attorney Elad Kahane of the Workers’ Hotline found that the Authority carried out 5,593 proactive enforcement actions in 2018-2019.

Of these, 11 percent (611) were in sectors where the vast majority of documented migrant or Palestinian workers were employed – nursing, agriculture, and construction. 

Attia Muhammed/Flash90
Attia Muhammed/Flash90Palestinian workers at the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip as they wait to enter Israel for work, on March 13, 2022.

The other 4,982 actions were in sectors that hardly receive permits for such employees, including hospitality, home maintenance, and restaurants.

Workers in those fields are either undocumented residents or asylum seekers employed under Israel’s non-refoulment policy, Haaretz reported.

The NGO suggested this shows that most of the effort is focused on those who employ Palestinians and migrants who reside and work in Israel illegally, or are asylum seekers. 

In response, the Authority said its work is “a mixture of different components, including enforcement on those residing illegally, protecting the rights of foreign workers, and also enforcement on employers of foreign workers who break the law.” ...

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