In an attempt to alleviate what is likely to be an extremely traumatic period
for hundreds of foreign workers and children threatened with imminent
deportation, the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority has
turned to the country’s social welfare services for guidance in softening the
blow, The Jerusalem Post learned Sunday.
“They approached us on the eve
of Succot and asked for help in dealing with the matter, which will clearly not
be straight forward and will be very traumatic,” Nachum Itzkovitz, the
director-general of the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, told the Post
in an interview.
“I must make it clear however, that we will not be
involved in any of the direct activities concerning the deportations of these
children or their families,” he said.
Rather, Itzkovitz said that the
social welfare services will assist in a humanitarian way, sharing their
professional know-how and tools for people facing trauma.
“At this point
we do not have enough information to say how we will do this exactly but we are
in the process of appointing a professional committee that will research more on
what we can do,” he added.
Itzkovitz said that currently the social
services are involved in only a minimal way in assisting the thousands of
foreign workers that reside in Israel, whether they are here legally or
“Sometimes we deal with domestic violence problems or children
at risk, where we will take in the victim[s] and help them,” he said,
highlighting that it is not the direct responsibility of the social welfare
services to deal with those who are not citizens.
Last month, officials
at the Interior Ministry said that immediately after the High Holy Days it would
begin enforcing deportation procedures against those who have had been denied
However, in an interview with the Post
ago, Yossi Edelstein, head of the Foreigners Affairs Department in the Interior
Ministry, said that large scale deportations of children or foreign workers
would not happen in the immediate future.
“The 30-day grace period that
the government granted foreign workers to submit applications on behalf of their
children to stay has been over for a week, but you don’t see me standing with a
stopwatch and ready to chase anybody down,” Edelstein said in that
“I have the addresses of nearly 100 families of people who
submitted applications but were automatically refused because they couldn’t meet
the threshold, but you don’t see me knocking on their doors.”
said that since the cabinet decision to deport children of foreign workers here
illegally, his office had received more than 700 applications from illegal
aliens on behalf of their children, asking to remain in Israel.
to previous figures from the Interior Ministry, less than 90,000 migrant workers
out of more than 300,000 foreigners in Israel today have the right to work here
legally. Those employed as caregivers – mainly from the Philippines or Nepal –
can extend their visas for as long as they are needed but all others
(agricultural and construction workers) must leave as soon as their permits end.