The Ministerial Law Committee on Sunday authorized for a Knesset reading a law that would substantially increase the punishments meted out to employers of illegal workers. The law was proposed by MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home).
The law would increase the level of offense in employing illegals, turning it from a civil offense to a crime. The new law would allow judges to sentence not only employers, but those who transport or house illegals, to up to four years in prison plus a large fine.
The law is aimed at employers of illegal Palestinian Arab workers who sneak into Israeli cities and towns for work from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. Workers from the Palestinian Authority are required to file for a permit to work in Israeli towns and cities, but many attempt to subvert the process by entering Israel illegally. Israel imposed strict controls on PA workers after it built the security fence, because many of the Arab workers were involved in terror attacks.
An estimated 100,000 of the 1.6-2.2 million Palestinian Arabs living in Palestinian Authority-controlled parts of Judea and Samaria enter Israeli towns and cities each day for work. The mass entry is spurred by high unemployment and low wages in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.
Roughly half of the entrants have work permits; the other 50,000 enter illegally, whether by taking advantage of weak points in the Judea and Samaria security fence, or with the help of Israeli citizens - or simply by taking the bus.
Multiple recent terrorist attacks have been carried out by Palestinian Arabs from Judea and Samaria who were in central Israel as illegal workers, including the murders of young IDF soldiers Tomer Hazan and Eden Attias, and a recent bombing on a bus near Tel Aviv. Additional attacks were planned by illegal entrants, but were thwarted by security forces before they could be put into action.
Yogev explained that he is not against employing Palestinian Arabs, but that for safety reasons, it should be done via legal routes. “In the current reality, it would be right to increase the number of work permits on the one hand, and on the other hand, to enforce entry laws regarding Palestinians whose entry would pose a real threat,” he said.
“The purpose of the law is to give the security system, the police and the courts an additional tool to fight the phenomenon of illegal entry and the danger illegal entrants pose to Israel’s citizens,” he added.