Slave Trade in Isreal
An article in Haaretz details a growing problem in Israel; the importation of laborers who end up in upaid, forced labor. This is part of a larger, worldwide problem involving between 600,000 and 800,000 people annually throughout the world who are trafficed for purposes of work, prostitution and harvesting of body organs. A tactic that is often used in Isreal is debt bondage.
This is a pattern of behavior in which the slave is made to compensate his employer for the expenses he incurred in bringing him [to Israel] and paying for his upkeep. To this end, he must forgo his salary or receive a pittance, with the length of the compensatory period and the value of the services rendered arbitrarily determined by the employer. The victims of this trade in people are particularly vulnerable because of their unfamiliarity with the target country. Even if they arrive legally, they do not know the local language and culture, and this deters them from realizing their rights.
According to U.S. rankings of countries, Isreal was initially listed at the lowest level--a country that is doing nothing at all to eradicate human trafficking. Since 2002, it has been upgraded to Tier 2--countries that are taking action, but not enough.
In 2005, Israel was added to a "watch list" of countries that are about to be downgraded. The 2005 report stated, in condemnation of Israel, that some of the foreign workers in the country suffer from nonpayment of wages, threats, coercion, physical and sexual abuse, debt bondage and restrictions on freedom of movement, including confiscation of passports. The report also noted that Israel does not have legislation against trafficking in persons for purposes of servitude.
Cases against employers of foreign workers are often closed when no Israeli citizen is involved, says Rom Levkowitz, spokesman for the Hotline for Migrant Workers. "The same mantra of 'no public interest' keeps repeating itself. The moment it is not Israeli citizens who are involved, the approach is that the case has no implications for the Israeli society. That is the message that is being conveyed. They prefer simply to deport the complainants," he says.