40 Arabs Laid Off as Israel Rail Saves Posts for Army Veterans

New employment terms also exclude Jews who didn't serve in IDF; company reserves 25 jobs for 'minorities.'

At least 40 Arab Israel Railways workers received pink slips on Sunday, effective the beginning of April. They are losing their jobs after Israel Railways changed its employment terms, and said it would employ only army veterans in the positions these workers held.

The workers serve as lookouts at level crossings, to prevent collisions between trains and vehicles. The job does not involve bearing arms.

The workers are employed by a human resources company, and some have been on the job for three years.

Abdel Karim Kadi, 28, from Kalansua, told Haaretz on Sunday: "We work with safety, not security. We prevent accidents and we do it for low pay. Most of the workers are Arabs, and now even an Arab who has done national service isn't good enough for them. We could be police officers or pharmacists, but not train monitors?"

The workers earn NIS 24 an hour, slightly above minimum wage. Since the story broke, they have allegedly been threatened not to speak to the media.

Kadi says about half the monitors are Jewish, and those who did not serve in the army will be fired as well.

Israel Railways, a government company obligated to transparency in its hiring practices, said on Sunday: "Israel Railways views as significant the hiring of veterans and providing opportunities for these young people. Israel Railways is also reserving some 25 positions for minorities who have not necessarily served in the army."

The human resources company employing the workers, Hashmira, said it had no choice but to meet the conditions of Israel Railways, and said it would do everything possible to find other jobs for workers who do not meet the new criteria.