Sweep Nabs 32 Illegal Workers in Northern Factory

YERUSHALAYIM -

Police continued their sweep of businesses that employ illegal workers, on Wednesday shutting down a factory that was employing 32 such workers. In this instance, the workers were undocumented immigrants from Ukraine and Georgia. The workers have been arrested and the factory shut down for the time being. The factory is in the Shachak Industrial Zone in the Galilee.

According to Population Registry officials, the group entered Israel on tourist visas, with the full knowledge that they were coming to Israel to work. The illegals failed to leave the country withing the three-month limit of their tourist visas, and did not renew their visas or seek a different status. The group’s employment was organized by a “manpower” contract worker company, which officials said would also be investigated.

Under new laws approved by the Knesset earlier in March, penalties levied against employers who employ illegal workers were raised significantly. The new sanctions increased fines against individual employers to NIS 226,000 per incident of employing illegal workers, compared to the previous maximum of NIS 75,000. In addition, employers can 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 was authored and pushed through the Knesset in a relatively short period of time in response to terror attacks in February, in which one person was killed and over a dozen injured.

Although aimed primarily at illegal Arab workers, the law is being used to enforce immigration laws against other groups with high concentrations of illegal workers, including from Eastern Europe and Africa.