[ Human Trafficking, Country-by-Country ]

ISRAEL (Tier 2) Extracted in part  from the U.S. State Dept 2023 TIP Report

The Government of Israel does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.  The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Israel remained on Tier 2.  These efforts included approving the 2022-2026 anti-trafficking implementation plan, recognizing more trafficking victims, and revising victim recognition procedures.  The government also modestly increased investigations, prosecutions, and convictions.  However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.  The government’s efforts to hold labor traffickers criminally accountable remained inadequate, and the government did not consistently investigate labor trafficking cases referred by NGOs.  The government relied on NGOs to initially identify victims, rather than proactively identifying victims.  NGOs continued to report that the government’s high evidentiary standard to recognize victims discouraged victims from seeking government assistance.  The government’s oversight of foreign labor recruitment outside of bilateral work agreements (BWAs), including through foreign contracting companies (“Hevrot Bitzua”), was inconsistent and inadequate to prevent forced labor.  In addition, the government’s “non-enforcement” policy for Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia’s war against Ukraine and working on tourist visas in Israel increased their vulnerability to trafficking.

Prioritized Recommendations

Significantly increase investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of labor traffickers, including potential trafficking cases referred by NGOs, and sentence convicted traffickers to significant prison terms.

Continue expediting processes to proactively identify and refer trafficking victims to appropriate care without re-traumatizing victims, including those referred by NGOs, and ensure victim identification procedures take a trauma-informed approach.

Authorize more government officials throughout the country to identify trafficking victims to allow for more efficient access to protection services.

Ensure all potential victims have full access to services while their case is being reviewed for official victim recognition.

Proactively screen vulnerable populations, including undocumented African migrants, foreign workers, Palestinian workers, Ukrainian refugees, and vulnerable LGBTQI+ individuals, to ensure victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, such as for immigration and “prostitution”-associated violations.

Increase enforcement of foreign worker and Palestinian labor rights, including by establishing systems to ensure workers have valid and fair labor contracts, eliminating all worker-paid recruitment fees for all foreign and Palestinian workers, ensuring any recruitment fees are paid by employers, and ensuring any employer-paid recruitment fees are not passed onto workers.

Create, widely implement, and advertise a policy clarifying a victim’s irregular or temporary immigration status will not factor into victim recognition decisions and ensure all recognized foreign victims receive B1 “rehabilitation” visas.

Substantially increase anti-trafficking awareness and victim identification trainings for law enforcement and front-line officials, including police, border, immigration, and prison officials, at regional and local levels.

Increase the number of labor inspectors, social workers, and interpreters in the agricultural, construction, and caregiving sectors, and provide them with training on victim identification procedures.

Expand resources and officials allocated to the National Anti-Trafficking Unit (NATU) to ensure NATU is able to adequately perform their duties.

Allocate resources and fully implement the 2019-2024 NAP and 2022-2026 implementation plan to combat trafficking.

Amend the 2006 anti-trafficking law to include a definition of human trafficking consistent with international law.

Continue transparently sharing information on government anti-trafficking efforts with civil society.