Israeli Brothers Who Enslaved Nephews Sentenced to Less Than Five Years in Plea Deal

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Illustration.
Illustration. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

A court in southern Israel sentenced on Thursday two brothers who enslaved their two nephews to prison for less than five years.

One of the brothers, Amjad Gabur, 27, who was convicted of forced labor, assault and abuse, received four-and-a-half years in prison and a year of probation. The other one, Anwar Gabur, 31, who was convicted of forced labor and assault, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and six years of probation. The two were also ordered to pay thousands in damages to the victims.

According to the indictment, the nephews worked long hours seven days a week, sometimes entire nights, in 2018 and 2019. The nephews were not given any days off or regular breaks as mandated by law, and they worked for a miniscule wage. As a result, the minors missed school for long periods.

The brothers created an air of violence to force their nephews to continue working, abusing them physically and emotionally. Anwar and Amjad often beat the minors, and slapped and kicked them when they didn’t work fast enough or made mistakes. Additionally, they often left the minors without adult supervision or requisite safety equipment for working with baking machines. As a result, the nephews suffered burns, and one of them lost three fingers when his hand got caught in a dough-slicing machine.

The judges wrote in their ruling that “an objective view must be taken to judge acts according to the state of Israel’s values, and not to give weight to the subjective views of the family of the accused, whose archaic values-based positions must be eradicated.”

The brothers confessed and were convicted as part of a plea bargain. During the arguments, the prosecutor in the case stated that “evil and violence found expression in the acts of the accused, who beat the children who were at their mercy… the accused physically and emotionally hurt the minors, their dignity and their sense of security.”

She also argued that just as the state denunciantes the existence of revenge killings and child marriages, it should do the same regarding the labor of children under the age of 14, especially work done while they are supposed to be in school and learning according to the compulsory education law.

The prosecutor added: “Beyond defending children from economic exploitation and dangerous labor that can injure them, Israel reports to the U.S. State Department annually about enforcement and defense of human trafficking victims for sex or labor, slavery, etc.”

The judge wrote in the ruling: “There is nothing wrong with children participating in a family business, and learning from a young age about work, responsibility and solidarity. However, there is a huge gap between education and coercion, between encouragement and punishment, between work that is adapted to a child as an educational tool and work that has the goal of maximizing economic output from children, between occasional work on summer vacation days and exhausting, dangerous work at night that comes in place of studies.”

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