Police continued their sweep of businesses that employ illegal Palestinian workers Wednesday night, arresting an additional 16 workers in northern Israel. Over the past week, police have arrested some 300 illegal Palestinian workers.
The latest raid took place at construction sites in Or Akiva and Haifa. Police discovered the workers living at the building site, with some violating the terms of their work visa, and others not having a visa at all. Police said they planned to question the workers’ employers. On Tuesday, police arrested over a dozen such workers at a building site in central Israel – and ordered the site closed altogether for at least the next month. Police did not say if they would seek the same sanction in the latest case.
On Monday, the Knesset passed on its final readings a law that significantly increases the penalties levied against employers who allow illegal Arab workers into their businesses. The 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.
The law’s quick advancement and passage was prompted by 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 1948 Green Line 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.
The latest terror incidents involving illegal workers occurred last week, when one person was killed and over a dozen injured in the terror attacks that hit Tel Aviv, Yerushalayim and Petach Tikvah last Tuesday. Within the space of three hours, an Arab terrorist opened fire on Israeli police officers on Salah a-Din Street outside the Old City of Yerushalayim, a 17-year-old Arab stabbed an Israeli at the open-air market in Petach Tikvah, and an Arab went on a stabbing spree along the boardwalk in southern Tel Aviv, killing an American tourist, Taylor Alan Force, and injuring eleven people before he was eliminated at the Jaffa Port.
The terrorists in the Petach Tikvah and Tel Aviv attacks were both Arabs from Shomron – the former from Salfit, in central Shomron, and the latter from the Kalkilya area – and both were in Israel illegally, having snuck into the country by subterfuge, possibly by breaching the security fence, officials said.