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Israel 'encourages' human trafficking by not tackling it, report reveals

A girl walks carrying pillows along a street at the Rafah camp for Palestinian refugees in the southern Gaza Strip on November 16, 2021 [SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images]
A girl walks carrying pillows along a street at the Rafah camp for Palestinian refugees in the southern Gaza Strip on November 16, 2021 [SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli authorities are failing to prevent human trafficking as a result of their inaction and lack of efforts to identify and protect victims, a report published by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants has said.

Looking into the issue from 2001 and 2021, the report highlights Israel's inadequate efforts to punish perpetrators, as "complaints about the confiscation of passports, deprivation of freedom and other indications of contemporary slavery were not known to the authorities and did not trigger any red flags."

The very few foreign workers considered victims of human trafficking were found and assisted with aid by human rights organisations rather than state authorities, the report said.

Amongst the victims are two construction workers from Turkey who suffered from physical and psychological trauma. They were rescued four years ago by the Centre for Refugees and Migrants, Arab48 reported.

"All the time they ask us to work faster. The manager says that we must hurry, and work without stopping. It is forbidden to take a cigarette while we are sitting, but only standing, and for only two minutes. And whoever does not work quickly, they take him back to Turkey," the victims said.

READ: Israel not doing enough to combat human trafficking

The report cited data from Israel showing that Israeli authorities have recognised 3,736 survivors of human trafficking; 3,100 of them have been found at the Centre for Refugees and Migrants.

Moreover, over the last two decades, only 1,454 working migrants received aid from the Israeli Ministry of Justice's legal office after being considered victims of human trafficking.

The report concluded that "Israel, with its policy and failures, encourages human trafficking and slavery through its failure to tackle it."

This comes after the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, issued earlier this year, criticised Israel for not making a significant effort to combat human trafficking or meet international standards to combat trafficking.

According to the report, the Israeli government, led by then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did not allocate a budget for the national plan to combat human trafficking, two years after its approval.

It has also gone back on serious and sustained initiatives to combat trafficking, including reducing investigations and the prosecution of perpetrators and understaffing at its only authority directly charged with dealing with the matter.

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