Child at crosswalk.
(photo credit: Reuven Ben-Shalom)
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
“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.
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.