10,000 Indian construction workers to reach Israel soon in batches starting next week

10,000 Indian Construction Workers to Alleviate Israel's Manpower Crisis
10,000 Indian Construction Workers to Alleviate Israel's Manpower Crisis
10,000 Indian Construction Workers to Alleviate Israel's Manpower Crisis

Jerusalem | With Israel's construction sector suffering a severe manpower crisis post the October 7 conflict with Hamas, some 10,000 workers from India are to make their way here starting next week, industry sources said on Wednesday.

These 10,000 workers will reach in batches of 700 to 1,000 a week, a source in the Israel's Builders Association (IBA) told PTI here.

With Israel's latest conflict with Hamas in Gaza a little short of four months, and a ban on the entry of Palestinian workers and the departure of several thousand other foreign workers, the Israeli construction industry has been facing a deep crisis and several ongoing projects are getting either stalled or delayed.

Following the conflict, Israel has banned the entry of Palestinian workers. The departure of several thousand other foreign workers, the Israeli construction industry has been facing a deep crisis.

Israeli business daily The Calcalist in a report in Hebrew last week said that the quota of foreign manpower for the construction industry has been increased from 30,000 to 50,000 and that the Israeli government last month approved the arrival of 10,000 workers from India.

The IBA source confirmed to PTI that the details in the Calcalist report were correct.

When asked about the arrival of the first batch of workers, the source said, “We hope they'll come next week.” The workers to arrive in Israel would be part of the private recruitment track, which was approved by the government in parallel with the bilateral (inter-governmental) track to enable rapid recruitment of workers into the construction industry.

The IBA is looking to hire workers also from other countries such as Mexico, Kenya and Malawi. Screening of workers is said to have begun three weeks ago in India, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan.

“To date, out of about 8,000 workers examined, about 5,500 have been found suitable for work in Israel – the vast majority Indian,” The Calcalist had reported.

“The Indian construction workers are at a high professional level. Many of them were previously employed in the Gulf countries, so these are skilled manpower. Most of them are fluent in English, and those who have worked in the Gulf also know Arabic, which is a great advantage,” an industry source was quoted by the business daily as saying.

The selection process is led by IBA's CEO Igal Slovik and Izchak Gurvitz, who heads the association's division dealing with workers' issues and the selection team.

Israel's Ministry of Housing and Construction is currently said to be working on a proposal to increase by another 10,000 the hiring of workers through the private track.

This will increase the total quota of foreign workers employed in the industry from 50,000 workers today to 60,000.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in December had “discussed advancing the arrival of foreign workers from India to the State of Israel.” Israel's Minister of Economy, Nir Barkat, during his trip to India in April last year, had spoken to officials and his counterpart in New Delhi about hiring Indians in various sectors, including the construction sector.

The discussions then revolved around bringing in almost 160,000 people in various sectors.

About 18,000 Indians are working in Israel, mostly as caregivers. Most of them decided to stay back in Israel and did not leave the country during the war because "they felt quite secure" and "also because the salaries are quite attractive".

Israel and India also inked an agreement in May last year during the then Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen's visit to New Delhi that will allow 42,000 Indian workers to work in the Jewish state in the fields of construction and nursing, a move that was then seen "to help deal with the rising cost of living and assist thousands of families waiting for nursing care".

A statement released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry then said that 34,000 workers will be engaged in the construction field and another 8,000 for nursing needs.

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