Gov’t to Investigate Deaths of Animals in Shipments

Cows at Kibbutz Marom Golan, in the Golan Heights. (Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90)

The deaths of an unusually high number of calves on a flight to Israel last week has led the Agriculture Ministry to ban all flights of live animals into Israel. The ban went into effect Sunday after dozens of animals died on board a plane from Hungary to Israel last week. The cessation of flights will continue for at least several days, while Ministry officials try to determine what happened. The effect on meat prices could be significant, the officials said.

Also investigating the deaths of the animals will be officials of the Veterinary Service and the Animal Import Service, two other government agencies that represent the Health and Finance Ministries respectively. In a statement, the Agriculture Ministry said that it takes the issue of animal suffering very seriously, and intended to get to the bottom of the case in as short a time as possible.

The Ministry in recent months has been trying to reduce the number of live animals brought into the country, replacing them with meat that is slaughtered in the countries where the animals originate. Currently, 7,500 tons of such meat can be imported annually, but that number will soon be increased, the Ministry said.

Dr. Shlomo Grazi of the Agriculture Ministry said the import of fresh meat was an excellent alternative to importing live animals. “With that, the Ministry will continue to supervise flights of live animals to prevent suffering and to ensure that health regulations are followed. Violators will be dealt with harshly,” he added.

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