MKs Discuss Upping Penalties for Employing Illegal Arabs

Arab construction workers in Beitar Illit. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90
Arab construction workers in Beitar Illit. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Knesset Interior Committee on Sunday discussed a law that that would significantly increase the penalties levied against employers who allow illegal Arab workers into their businesses. The discussion was the result of a government decision last week to increase the penalties against such businesses, after the terror attack in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, in which one person was killed and eleven wounded.

During hearings on new measures against these employers, MKs reviewed statistics that showed the correlation between terrorism and illegal Arabs. Forty-four percent of terror attacks within the Green Line 1948 armistice borders were carried out by illegal Arab workers. A total of 73 attacks have taken place inside Israel proper since October 1, and of those, 27 were carried out by illegal workers.

Currently, employers are subject to heavy fines and other civil sanctions for employing such workers – but that could change. At a security cabinet meeting last Tuesday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and senior officials announced a series of responses to last Tuesday’s terror spree. Among the operative decisions: A cut in the number of work permits to be issued to Palestinians, and a reinforcement of the security fence, especially in the Yerushalayim and south Chevron Hills areas.

Since that meeting, the IDF and police have embarked on a massive campaign to round up illegal workers and send them back to Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. Several hundred such workers have already been captured and sent back to PA areas.

New sanctions would increase fines against individual employers to NIS 226,000 per incident of employing illegal Palestinian workers, compared to the maximum NIS 75,000 now. In addition, employers could be sentenced to up to four years in prison, and courts would have the right to close a business down altogether for up to 60 days as part of the penalties.