DECEMBER 9, 2022
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Thousands of foreign workers flee Israel following 7 October: Report

Thousands of foreign workers flee Israel following 7 October: Report

According to a report by Israeli newspaper Maariv, over 17,000 foreign workers have left Israel following the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on 7 October.

Eyal Sisso, the Director of Israel's Immigration and Population Authority at the Ministry of the Interior, informed the newspaper that since 7 October, a total of 9,855 Thai agricultural workers, 4,331 construction workers, and 2,997 nursing workers have departed Israel. He added that this, coupled with the restriction on 85,000 Palestinian workers from the occupied West Bank entering Israel, has resulted in a shortfall of approximately 100,000 foreign and Palestinian workers.

Sisso added that the departure of thousands of Thai workers occurred following a request from the Thai government. During its surprise attack on military bases and settlements surrounding Gaza on 7 October, Hamas captured some 240 people, including 54 Thai men working on farms. 33 Thai men were killed in the attack. 

Hamas has so far released 17 of the Thai workers as well as 51 Israelis as part of a captive exchange with Israel that has seen some 150 Palestinians freed from Israeli prisons.

The director added that the ministry has been operating non-stop to address the demand for foreign labor, successfully bringing in 3,485 workers from India, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Additionally, efforts were made to considerably increase the quota of workers from India from 30,000 to 50,000, and the quotas for workers from Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan were also elevated.

Sisso further stressed that Israel is undergoing a national emergency, affirming that Tel Aviv is determined to extend workers' permits to foreigners in the sectors of nursing, agriculture, and construction. 

A temporary three-month permit has been issued to private firms, allowing them to recruit foreign workers based on specific criteria. Sisso noted that Israel is still employing Jordanian workers in the hotel industry, with 1,100 currently working in Eilat's hotels. 

In May, Israel planned to bring 10,000 workers from India to fill positions in the construction and nursing industries in a sign of deepening economic and political cooperation between Tel Aviv and New Delhi, in addition to replacing Palestinian workers with foreigners.

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