Wednesday, May 29, 2024

India to send 6,000 construction workers to Israel amid Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza

Indian workers aspiring to be hired for jobs in Israel look at a form that needs to be filled during a recruitment drive in Lucknow, India, January 25, 2024 [Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP Photo]

Over 6,000 construction workers from India are set to arrive in Israel during April and May, announced the Israeli government on Wednesday amidst the ongoing war on Gaza.

This deployment stems from a government-to-government agreement between the two nations, a response to the pressing labor shortage in Israel’s construction sector.

The first batch of 64 Indian construction workers arrived in Israel on April 9th under this pact, with further arrivals expected in the following weeks, totaling 850 by mid-April.

These workers will be transported from India via an “air shuttle,” marking the largest influx of foreign labor into Israel’s construction industry in a condensed period, as highlighted in the Israel’s official government statement.

Traditionally, the majority of foreign construction workers in Israel have hailed from the West Bank and from the Gaza Strip. However, the war has led to the revocation of many of their work permits since October.

This initiative, according to the statement, represents a significant boost to Israel’s construction sector, addressing the acute labor shortage that has hampered various projects. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office to address the issue, recognizing its impact on the cost of living and potential friction between government bodies and businesses.

In addition to the government-to-government agreement, over 900 construction workers have arrived from India in recent months through bilateral business arrangements facilitated by human resources agencies in both countries.

However, India’s plan to send workers to a country effectively involved in a genocide of Palestinians has been criticised by labour groups and the opposition.

In November last year, 10 of India’s biggest trade unions issued a strongly-worded statement, urging the government to not send Indian workers to Israel amid the ongoing war on Gaza.

“Nothing could be more immoral and disastrous for India than the said ‘export’ of workers to Israel. That India is even considering ‘exporting’ workers shows the manner in which it has dehumanised and commodified Indian workers,” said the statement.

The Construction Workers Federation of India, another major union, also opposed “any attempt to send the poor construction workers of our country to Israel to overcome its shortage of workers and in any way support its genocidal attacks on Palestine.”

Meanwhile this announcement comes a month after India’s embassy in Israel has advised its nationals in Israeli border areas to move to safer parts after a missile attack near the frontier with Lebanon killed one Indian citizen.

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