ordered the state on Wednesday to provide updates within one month on the
progress of the criminal investigation of alleged abuse at Tnuva’s Adom- Adom
slaughterhouse, recognizing the images of cattle prodding and dragging as
“shocking” to the eyes.
The High Court hearing on the matter occurred in
response to a December petition filed by the groups Anonymous for Animal Rights
and Let Animals Live, which called for the closure of the slaughterhouse until
the end of the criminal investigation.
The call to close the facility
followed the airing of an undercover expose on Reshet’s Kolbotek television
program in early December.
After the program showed images of animals
receiving electric shocks, beatings and other forms of abuse, the Agriculture
Ministry, the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Beit She’an police
opened a criminal investigation into the site’s practices – an investigation
that has yet to conclude.
Represented by attorney Yossi Wolfson, the
animal rights organizations filed their petition against the director of
Veterinary Services at the Agriculture Ministry – represented by attorney Michal
Michlin Friedlander of the State Attorney’s Office – and Tnuva, represented by
attorneys Itamar Anaby, Gavriel Disegni and Keren Waidberg from
Friedman & Co. Advocates.
Presiding over the hearing on
Wednesday were judges Miriam Naor, Yoram Danziger and Noam Solberg.
the beginning of the discussion, Friedlander assured the court that the State
Attorney’s Office is working together with the Agriculture Ministry on the issue
of whether to indict certain individuals, but that the quantity of photos and
material accumulated have required a lot of time. Within another month at most,
the process should be finished, she said, according to the discussion protocol
released by the High Court later that day.
“We saw the movie and it’s
shocking,” Naor said.
The judge noted, however, that at the end of the
film there is a section of photographs and other things that were not quite
comprehensible, as well as a disruption in the sound.
“We will request an
additional notice in another month from the respondents, because we want to know
what is going on with the indictment, and after we receive this [Wolfson] will
bring the continuation of his opinion,” Naor said. “There is no doubt that it is
hard to watch this film and these are difficult matters, and there is no doubt
that he who should be punished will be punished.”
While Wolfson accepted
the court’s decision, he stressed that there are still many issues that have
been left unsolved, such as the idea of dragging calves that are not capable of
standing on their feet.
An additional issue that Wolfson pointed out was
that of the security cameras – the fact that cameras have been installed, but
that viewing the pictures is available only to Tnuva employees.
complaint, Naor responded that Wolfson must turn to the respondents and gain an
understanding on the subject from them, because the issue does not appear in the
court petition directly.
Although Naor said that the court must wait
another month to receive updated investigation information before coming to any
decision, she noted: “The eyes see what they see, and it’s hard for them to
In response to Wednesday’s discussion, the Agriculture
Ministry expressed satisfaction with the court’s decision and issued a statement
detailing what actions its Veterinary Services has taken thus far, from the
moment the case was exposed.
Immediately upon learning of the incidents
taking place, the director of Veterinary Services ordered that immediate and
substantial actions occur, which would include resource reallocation and
procedures to prevent similar events from reoccurring, the ministry statement
The ministry implemented training courses for veterinarians and
their staff members at the slaughterhouse, as well as continued supervision of
their work afterward, the office said.
Meanwhile, Tnuva installed
security cameras in its slaughterhouses, providing full access of the
photographs to veterinarians at both Tnuva and at the ministry’s Veterinary
Services, according to the statement.
The Agriculture Ministry explained
to the slaughterhouse staff that the office’s veterinary supervisors would be
examining their work through randomized video screenings.
external supervision of activities at the slaughterhouse, the Agriculture
Ministry has also increased the number of Veterinary Services inspectors
arriving for facility checks there by six, the office noted.
to launching the improvements already made within the slaughterhouses, the
Agriculture Ministry opened the joint criminal investigation of the situation
with the police, and the findings of the investigation are now up for decision
under the jurisdiction of the Northern District Attorney’s office, the ministry
Although a hearing for four veterinarians at the slaughterhouse
occurred within the Agriculture Ministry, the office decided not to repeal their
licenses yet, but did require an increase in supervision of animal cruelty
prevention at the sites, the office said. Following the completion of the police
investigation, the ministry will decide whether to file charges on the subject,
the statement continued.
While generally content with the judges’
statements on Wednesday, Anonymous for Animal Rights expressed frustration that
regulations for handling slaughterhouse animals still do not exist, no charges
have been filed against the alleged abuses, the investigation has not concluded
and many alleged abusers and veterinarians who failed in their roles remain in
their positions at the company.
“We are quite satisfied with the
statements of Justice Naor, which were very unambiguous,” a statement from
Anonymous said. “She expressed shock from the investigation.”
On the same
day as the hearing, Tnuva’s Facebook page was flooded with web users posting
demands that the company install accessible webcams in their
Meanwhile, Anonymous slammed the Agriculture Ministry
for failing to enact suitable procedures for handling the treatment of animals
and preventing their abuse in slaughterhouses.
The need for such
procedures arose only after the broadcast of the alleged abuse occurred, and
months later the ministry still has yet to formulate such procedures, the
“It is outrageous that four months after the
investigation, nothing has changed,” Wolfson said. “Tnuva and the Agriculture
Ministry claim that security cameras were installed in the slaughterhouses. In
light of the failure to supervise the slaughter, we demand transparency – we
demand that photos be transmitted to an independent website, to allow consumers
to know where their food comes from.”