Minister Erdan Calls for Tougher Penalties for Israelis Hiring Illegal Workers

Public security minister's proposed legislation stipulates closure of sites where workers who cross into Israel illegally are employed, plus fines and jail time for those hiring or housing them.

A building site in Ra'anana.
Tomer Appelbaum

In light of ongoing attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, the Public Security Ministry is proposing significantly harsher penalties for anyone that hires workers who have crossed into the country illegally.

On Sunday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan proposed an amendment to the Entry to Israel Law, allowing the police to close a business or a construction site for 30 days if residents of the West Bank illegally in Israel are working there. The amendment also specifies the fines to be imposed on employers who house illegal workers overnight.

“Anyone who employs illegal individuals puts the lives of Israelis in danger,” Erdan said. “The current wave of terror has shown how dangerous the presence of these individuals is in city centers and construction sites. We must severely penalize those who employ illegal persons or who house them overnight so that it will not be worthwhile to risk the lives of Israelis out of greed.”

According to the proposed legislation, a one-time offense of either employing illegal workers or housing them overnight will be punishable by up to two years in prison. Anyone who puts up more than one illegal worker overnight or employs such an individual for longer than one day of work could face up to four years’ imprisonment.

The amendment calls for a minimum fine of 5,000 shekels (about $1,290) and a maximum of 75,000 shekels for employers who have committed a one-time offense, and a minimum fine of 10,000 shekels and maximum of 226,000 shekels for more serious offenders.

Last week three people were stabbed in Ra’anana by an Arab resident from the West Bank village of Tamun, who was apprehended by police hiding in a nearby yard.

About two months ago, the Israel Police began to beef up the enforcement of laws against illegal residents from the territories. Every police station is now required to allocate 20 percent of its human resources to patrolling construction sites and conducting searches for illegally employed West Bank residents.