People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Australia sent a letter to Israeli
government officials on Wednesday morning urging them to ban the import of live
animals from Australia immediately.
Israel’s import of Australian animals
– particularly sheep and cattle – is problematic due to the huge amounts of
greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting them, according to the
letters from PETA sent to Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and
ministry director-general David Leffler.
In 2012 alone, Israel imported
more than 64,000 sheep and 50,000 cattle from Australia, generating green house
gas emissions that amounted to 50,000 tons, the letters say.
“In view of
Israel’s efforts to combat climate change and its commitment to the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, we are asking you to take a step
that will dramatically decrease your greenhouse- gas emissions: Immediately ban
the import of live animals from Australia,” the letters request.
export of animals is ranked number 39 of the top 50 carbon dioxide emitters in
Australia, the organization added. This emissions ranking surpasses those of
enormous companies in Australia like Virgin Australia, Conoco, BP Regional,
Shell and AGL Energy, the letter explained.
“Animals being forced to
stand and lie in their own waste for several weeks should be enough to prompt
Israel to get out of the dirty live-imports business,” said PETA Australia
director of campaigns Jason Baker. “Add to that the defiling of the atmosphere
with thousands of tons of carbon-dioxide and the issue of live imports should
have been dead on arrival in Israel.”
The letters, signed by Baker,
emphasize that the conditions the sheep and cattle endure during their travels
to Israel are very grim, so much so that many collapse or die from dehydration,
suffocation, trampling or disease.
In response to the letter, the
Environmental Protection Ministry spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that “as
long as the Agriculture Ministry – which is first and foremost concerned with
farmers – is also responsible for the supervision of animal welfare violations,
which victimizes the animals quite often in the agricultural sector, the State
of Israel is deluding itself and the animals are paying the
“Regulatory authority for animal welfare should be in only one
place – the Environmental Protection Ministry,” the spokesman
Stressing that the ministry in the past asked the Treasury make the
import of live sheep and cattle more difficult, due to the abuse and pollution
associated with their transport, the spokesman said that the ministry’s request
When approached by the Post, the Agriculture Ministry
spokeswoman said that the office could not provide a reaction on greenhouse gas
emission issues, because air pollution falls under the jurisdiction of the
Regarding the transport of the animals, the
Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman explained that according to animal welfare
regulations, the transport must be carried out in the presence of a driver
trained by the ministry in order to minimize suffering and maintain welfare.
When most shipments arrive to Israel, Agriculture Ministry inspectors and
veterinarians are present in order to oversee the disembarkation process, the
spokeswoman added. In addition, every ship arriving in Israel must have a
veterinarian onboard, and the ship is obligated to report any
“It is important to note that the Agriculture Ministry
conducts extensive operations in all matters related to animal welfare,” the
Such operations include minimization of animal
suffering, regulations for livestock transportation, proper comforts during
transport and prohibitions against the use of force or an electric shocker
except in extreme situations, the ministry said.
Also on Wednesday, The
West Australian daily newspaper reported that a ship containing 5,240 cattle
bound for Israel was forced to return to the Fremantle port due to mechanical
problems. Israel is the Western Australia province’s most valuable customer for
live cattle in 2012- 13, with exports climbing to 41 million Australian dollars,
the newspaper said.
The Israeli organization Anonymous for Animal Rights,
which recently led an investigation with Channel 10 on the abuse of calves and
lambs disembarking from ships, urged both Environmental Protection Minister Amir
Peretz and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir to take action against the import of
“The data on greenhouse gas emissions from transports of
live animals should concern us all,” a statement from Anonymous said. “We all
pay the environmental costs of the meat industry, but the highest price is being
paid by the animals, who are led on turbulent ships for a journey lasting
several weeks. Many of them do not survive the journey.”
In the crowded
and dirty conditions, many of the animals get sick and are thrown to sea, and
even after the healthy ones arrive to Israel, they have recently faced beatings
and other abuses, according to the activist group.
“It is absurd to ship
animals from the other end of the world in order to fatten and slaughter them in
Israel, only with narrow interests from the Australian meat industry,” the
Anonymous statement said. “We, as consumers, can choose not to pay for this
abuse and to boycott the meat industry.”
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