Israel Railways Changes Its Story Over Dismissal of Arab Employees

Government company dismissed workers after saying it would only employ army veterans as lookouts.

Israel Railways changed its story Sunday over the dismissal of at least 40 Arab employees, telling a court that mistakes made by the employees prompted it to introduce new employment conditions.

The government company said it made the decision in order to "improve the level of supervision," the first time such a claim had been made since the workers lost their jobs.

Israel Railways dismissed the workers at the beginning of April after changing its employment terms, and said it would employ only army veterans in the positions these workers held.

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

The Tel Aviv Labor Court ordered Israel Railways on Sunday to further postpone its dismissal of Arab workers. The court had previously suspended the dismissal of the employees, who have continued to work in their old positions.

Attorney Tawfiq Tibi, who represents about 20 of the employees who petitioned the court, said the dismissals were a case of double discrimination.

"They discriminated against them firstly by firing them, and the second time by preventing those who did not serve in the army from applying for the job," Tibi said.