Israel Approves 92,000 Foreign Workers to Address Labor Shortage

By Yoni Weiss

Foreign workers working in a field near Kibbutz Hulda, on April 13. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

In response to a severe labor shortage, Israeli officials have approved a quota of 92,000 foreign workers to fill jobs in agriculture, industry, hotels, and restaurants, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Tuesday. Notably, this is the first time Israel has authorized foreign workers for the restaurant industry.

Seventy percent of the new quota is specifically allocated for agricultural laborers. The agricultural sector in Israel is facing substantial losses in both production and manpower. Prior to Oct. 7, there were 29,900 foreign workers, mostly from Thailand, employed in farms, orchards, greenhouses, and packing plants across Israel.

The shortage has been exacerbated by the mobilization of Israeli workers for military reserve duty and the current ban on Palestinian laborers due to security concerns. Additionally, many agricultural areas near the Lebanese border are inaccessible to farmers due to security risks.

“Despite the challenges of the war, the packing house works around the clock, with the aim of providing fresh Israeli produce continuously, while dealing with the directives of the Home Front Command,” said Asaf Keret, CEO of Beresheet, a fruit-packing business jointly run by several kibbutzim in the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights.

Keret addressed a delegation of fruit growers and agricultural officials touring Beresheet’s orchards, calling on the government to support agriculture with further measures such as grants for planting, increasing labor quotas, and other incentives.

“The fruit growers are at the height of the picking season and are faced with picking under the fire of Hezbollah, and we are prepared to market the produce of the farmers of the Galilee and the Golan to the marketing chains and wholesale companies. Thanks to our dedicated farmers and workers, I am sure that we will be able to supply the produce to the residents of the State of Israel,” Keret said.

The remaining foreign workers will be deployed in industry and hotels, with 2,000 set to work in restaurants for the first time.

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