Agriculture Minister: Israel to Work With Australia on Sheep Transports

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel has promised that Israel will intervene where it can in order to prevent cruelty to animals that are shipped to Israel from abroad, especially Australia. Uriel said in a statement that while Israel cannot dictate other countries’ policies on how they treat animals, “the moment they arrive in Israel’s territorial waters there will be Israeli intervention to ensure that animals are treated properly. We cannot accept a situation where animals are harmed, and we will continue to work to ensure that they are treated fairly.”

Ariel made the statement in the wake of a major controversy in Australia, in which companies that ship sheep abroad were accused of mistreating the animals. Footage taken surreptitiously by animal rights activists showed the sheep penned up in very small spaces for long periods during the ocean-going voyages from the continent abroad, especially to the Middle East. Little food is distributed to the animals, and footage showed them wallowing in their own waste, with many contracting diseases. Hundreds, or even thousands, die aboard ship on the long journey and are thrown overboard. Animals that make it to Israel, mostly shipped to the Palestinian Authority, are seen boarded on rickety trucks and mistreated further.

Ariel said he had spoken with Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, whom Ariel said was anxious to help solve the problems. “He plans to set up a panel in Australia to discuss the issues, and he will include us in its decision-making process,” said Ariel. “We, on our end, will work to tighten regulations on importing live animals, and increase instead our imports of slaughtered meat.”According to officials, some 600,000 sheep are imported into Israel annually.

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