Aiming to curb abuse cases at the country’s slaughterhouses, the Agriculture Ministry has ordered the installation of cameras at all such facilities. The devices will stream live footage to a central ministry control room.
The “smart camera” system, which will include about 400 cameras and 50 digital recording systems at about 50 slaughterhouses, will be filming workers as they handle animals on a 24/7 basis, the Agriculture Ministry said. A supervisory team from the ministry’s Veterinary Services will be tasked with monitoring the video feed from the cameras at the central control room, the ministry added.
“Our inspection of slaughterhouses is rising to the next level,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said. “We were witnesses to various severe cases at slaughterhouses around Israel. On the one hand, we cannot generalize, but on the other hand we must increase monitoring and enforcement or else these cases will not change.”
Ariel first called for the installation of cameras as well as the control room’s establishment in July, after Channel 10 aired a report revealing abusive activities at a Soglowek poultry abattoir. The continuation of a Channel 10 Kolbotek investigation in October 2013, prompted by Anonymous for Animal Rights activist Ronen Bar July’s expose showed images of employees dancing in circles with chickens and throwing them around to each other as if they were balls.
Other such incidents have been reported at slaughterhouses in the past, such as an abuse case at Tnuva’s Adom Adom cattle slaughterhouse in December 2012. In June, the Agriculture Ministry temporarily shut down the Dabbah company slaughterhouse, also due to animal rights violations.
Just last week, Channel 2 aired the results of a three-month investigation conducted with Anonymous for Animal Rights that exposed various abuse and sanitation violations at the Oaf Hagalil and Milouoff slaughterhouses.
Meat from both of these facilities is not only consumed domestically but is also exported abroad, according to Anonymous.
By installing cameras and heightening supervision at the country’s slaughterhouses, ministry officials expressed their hope that the suffering of the animals will be minimized.
In order to expedite the matter, the ministry is currently publishing a tender for the supply, installation and maintenance of the cameras. Over the course of 2016, all slaughterhouses and facilities that produce animal food products should have the systems installed, they said.
“Installation of cameras in slaughterhouses is a critical step that will increase control and deterrence,” Ariel added. “I have no doubt that the move will protect animals and prevent cases of abuse that should not happen in a Jewish state.”
Veterinary Services director Dr. Nadav Galon stressed that the ministry adheres to a “zero tolerance” policy regarding animal rights violations.
“The ministry will continue to streamline the supervision and enforcement of the Animal Welfare Law, and perform various operations to eradicate this phenomenon, both through enforcement measures and advocacy,” Galon said.
Anonymous for Animal Rights, alongside the organization Let Animals Live, applauded the decision to install the cameras but demanded that several additional steps be taken.
“The installation of the cameras is an important step toward enforcing the Animal Welfare Law in slaughterhouses,” a joint statement from the groups said. “These are factories who by nature are involved in abuse and killing, and the investigations that we have performed have proven that even the minimum requirements of the law are not being applied – beatings, kicking and electrification with shockers are commonplace.”
The organizations called upon the ministry to allow representatives of animal rights organizations access to the camera footage, stressing that such a measure is necessary due to “the ongoing failure of Veterinary Services to enforce the law.”
“We hope that if violations of the Animal Welfare Law are discovered in the footage, they are handled stringently,” the statement said. “Thus far no indictments have been filed regarding the Soglowek and Dabbah affairs, despite the many hours of videotaped evidence submitted to the Agriculture Ministry.”