Construction Company Employees Arrested After Worker Falls to His Death

Migrant workers' deaths in Bnei Brak and Petah Tikvah raise death toll in construction accidents to 16 this year

The site of the accident in Petah Tikva, May 16, 2019.
Magen David Adom Spokesperson תומר אפלבאום

Two construction workers fell to their deaths Thursday in accidents at two building sites in central Israel, prompting arrests of three construction company employees in one of the cases' ensuing investigation.

A 31-year-old Moldovan man fell three stories at a building site operated by the Ashtrom Group on Derekh Sheshet Hyamim in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv.

Paramedics arrived at the site and immediately declared his death. The Ashtrom Group, which owns the site in which the man was killed, refused to comment following an inquiry by Haaretz.

The site of the accident in Bnei Brak, May 16, 2019.
Magen David Adom Spokesperson

The men's deaths raise the number of workers who have died in construction accidents this year to 16.

On Thursday overnight, six men were interrogated under caution, while several employees who were present during the fall in the Bnei Brak site gave their testimonies.

Foremen Asher Kitraro, Nissim Eyal and Gil Amsili were arrested Friday on suspicion of causing death by negligence.

The police suspect the worker fell into a shaft at the building site due to the suspects' negligent conduct.

The police requested Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court to extend the suspects' remand by five days, however, the court did not grant the request, releasing the suspect to house arrest.

"I found that there is a reasonable suspicion linking the suspects to the circumstances leading to this unfortunate accident. However, at this stage, it is impossible to determine how strong this suspicion is since the investigation is in its initial stages," said Judge Rina Hirsh.

"The purpose of the remand can be achieved under restrictive conditions and house arrest," the judge added.

Nevertheless, the police's request to delay the suspects' release to house arrest was granted in order to appeal the decision to the Lod District Court.  

In the second case, a 44-year-old Chinese migrant worker was declared dead after falling five stories at a building site operated by the Sasson Hugi Group in Petah Tikva, northeast of Tel Aviv.

Resuscitation efforts by emergency services paramedics called to the scene were unsuccessful.

"He was unconscious with a very serious injury to his upper body and I immediately began to give him medical treatment and carry out resuscitation measures but his injury was fatal and ultimately an MDA paramedic declared his death,” said Magen David Adom emergency medic Elazar Rubinstein.

The Labor Ministry said that both of the building sites had been closed and that an investigation had been opened. Its statement said the "safety administration works tirelessly to raise safety standards in construction sites," and blamed contractors of disregarding safety protocols.

Israel rarely convicts contractors for the death of construction workers. In 2016, a Haaretz probe showed that in the previous six years - in which 180 workers died - only 11 indictments were filed against contractors and foremen for causing death by negligence. Eight of those led to convictions, and only one case served active jail time.