The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) on Monday began a
month long crackdown on Israeli companies and individuals employing illegal
During the campaign, 150 officials from various Interior
Ministry units charged with locating, identifying and prosecuting offenders will
be conducting surprise inspections of businesses and homes in an effort to track
down illegal workers and take legal action against their employers.
an extensive morning briefing on Monday, 18 teams made up of inspectors
intelligence officers from the ministry’s Oz unit, as well as PIBA Visa
Aliens Department officials and agents from PIBA’s Special Assignments
spread out across the country in search of offenders.
The Jerusalem Post
accompanied a team checking businesses in Tel Aviv.
The first stop was a
coffee shop on Weizmann Street. The unit had intelligence that it was
foreign workers and wanted to see if their employment was
Accompanied by reporters and photographers, the team entered the
restaurant and immediately identified three suspected foreign
While the plain-clothed PIBA officials asked to speak to the
manager, the black-clad Oz inspectors escorted the three men outside and
requested to see their work permits.
Baruch Ash, from PIBA’s Visa and
Aliens department, explained that apart from a handful of Asian workers
specifically permitted to work at ethnic restaurants, it was generally
for foreign workers to be employed in the restaurant sector.
inspection it was determined that the three men were not foreign workers
but Eritrean nationals who had arrived in Israel a year ago and were
so-called “limited- release” visas. They were members of a growing
migrants who illegally cross the Egyptian border but, because of
obligations and human rights concerns, cannot be deported.
While it is
formally forbidden for them to work, the state turns a blind eye to
employment out of an understanding that they have to support
After a thorough inspection of their papers, the men were
allowed to return to their jobs at the coffee shop.
In the meantime,
members of the PIBA Special Assignments unit questioned the manager to
the workers were being treated according to the law, which, as with any
demands that they be paid at least minimum wage and provided with
insurance. The manager showed the officials the required documents, and
One of the officials told the Post that if the workers had been
illegal or any of the employment requirements not been met, the unit had
authority to fine the business up to NIS 5,000 per violation, multiplied
number of workers.
He said that he had once fined a business NIS 500,000
for employing 17 illegal workers and failing to meet a long list of
At a coffee shop and bakery on Ibn Gvirol Street, the unit
once more failed to find any illegal foreign workers. It did, however,
a Nigerian asylum seeker who was working at the restaurant on a parttime
Like the three Eritreans, the Nigerian man was also safe from
because of his special status – his papers revealed that he had entered
on a tourist visa and, once in the country, approached the United
Nations to ask
for asylum, claiming political persecution in his home country.
waiting to go before a Refugee Status Determination committee, he was
permitted to work.
At the third stop, a car wash on Yigal Alon Street,
men the intelligence unit suspected of being foreign workers turned out
Israeli citizens from the Beduin city of Rahat. The unit quickly left
inspecting their blue identification cards.
The fourth and fifth stops –
Sushi restaurants in southern Tel Aviv – likewise proved to be “kosher,”
one having no foreign workers and the other holding permits to employ
Chinese nationals working as chefs.
After that, the team called it a
While the officials in Tel Aviv had nothing to show for their
efforts, other teams had more success. The tally issued by PIBA reported
total of 38 homes and businesses had been inspected, yielding 14
violations, including an Indian national being employed as a housekeeper
home of a well-known Israeli model.
PIBA spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said
the enforcement campaign would be continuing over the entire month of
would be accompanied by a media campaign aimed at educating the public
legal risks entailed in the employment of foreign workers.
the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel currently has some 70,000 legal
workers and 150,000 who are considered to be in the country illegally.
foreign workers are restricted to employment in construction,
care-giving and ethnic restaurants. Special permits are issued to people
considered to be experts in their field for cases in which there is
manpower in Israel.