Construction Firm Owner Indicted for Worker’s Death

The owner and his brother were charged with ordering workers to place safety helmet alongside body of dead worker and lie

File photo, construction worker in Tel Aviv.
Eyal Toueg

In a rare move, the owner of a construction company and his brother, the building site manager, were indicted on charges of negligent homicide and obstruction of justice.

The owner is accused of ordering workers to place a safety helmet alongside the body of a construction worker who was killed accidentally at work, and to lie to investigators and say the worker had been wearing the helmet. But the owner allegedly never provided the workers with any of the legally-required safety equipment.

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The owner’s brother, who has no professional training in the field, is accused of ordering the workers to work in an unsafe manner.

The case involves the death of Mahmoud Hussein Abu Zahara, 25, from the city of Yatta near Hebron, who died when a wall collapsed on him while he was renovating a home in Ra’anana in 2016. Abu Zahara was killed on his first day on the job. He never received any safety training.

The owner is charged with violating the law by not appointing a certified work supervisor for the job, which included demolishing walls, building partitions, and plumbing and electrical work. Instead he appointed his untrained brother.

After the accident, the owner allegedly told the workers to bring helmets from his car for them and the slain Abu Zahara.

The lawyer for the two defendants said the events described in the indictment are incorrect.

Only a few indictments are filed in any year over the deaths of construction workers, and sometimes none are filed. In 2016, 50 construction workers were killed accidentally on the job.