Children begging in intersections is a life-threatening phenomenon, MK Orly Levy-Abecassis, chairwoman of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, said during a discussion in the Knesset on Tuesday.

The committee convened to discuss the issue of children begging in intersections and in cities throughout Israel.

“I am appalled to see children, sometimes three or four years old, begging in the streets,” the Yisrael Beytenu MK said. “These are children who are victims for exploitation.”

According to the chairwoman, many of the children begging in intersections are Palestinians who enter Israel through various methods, sometimes through an agent or dealer, and most often due to economic hardships. Levy-Abecassis outlined the various dangers facing these children, from pedophiles to dehydration and to the fact that they could easily get run over by a passing vehicle. The only way to fight this phenomenon, she asserted, is through cooperation between government ministries, first and foremost the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and the police.

“We must reach the top of the pyramid – the same elements that are responsible for the exploitation and for organizing the children,” Levy-Abecassis asserted, while comparing this phenomenon to the state’s activities in combating the trafficking of women.

Dana Tzronovelsky, assistant legal adviser for the Public Security Ministry, responded to Levy-Abecassis’s statement and noted that officials face great difficulty in identifying those responsible, though when they are able to track down such an individual, he is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Dr. Peretz Segal, a representative from the Justice Ministry, said these children were indeed at great risk and stressed the need for the police and welfare officials to remain in constant touch in an effort to help these children. Segal further praised the welfare department of the Jerusalem Municipality, which he said provided an example for successful treatment of this phenomenon.

Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, executive director of the National Council for the Child, also noted the importance of coordination with Palestinian officials on this issue, though he stated that in the past they did not agree to cooperate with the NCC.

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