Amid the Gaza War: 10,000 Indian construction workers going to Israel, starting next week
New Delhi: Facing a severe shortage of workers amid its ongoing all-out war in and around the Gaza Strip, Israel has invited Indian laborers to join its construction industry.
Nearly 10,000 Indian workers will reach the Jewish nation soon, starting next week, the media reported on Wednesday.
After the conflict started on October 7, 2023, Israel banned the entry of thousands of Palestinian workers. And, the departure of thousands of other foreign workers triggered an unprecedented crisis in the Israeli construction industry. Several ongoing projects are getting either stalled or delayed.
Its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had, during a telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in December 2023 discussed advancing the arrival of foreign workers from India to Israel.
The 10,000-odd Indian workers will reach Israel in batches of 700 to 1,000 a week, reports from the Israel’s Builders Association (IBA) said.
Israeli business daily The Calcalist last week said 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 Indian workers going to Israel would be part of the private recruitment track, approved by the government alongside the bilateral (inter-governmental) track to enable rapid recruitment of workers into the construction industry.
The IBA is also looking to hire workers 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.
Until now, 5,000 of about 8,000 workers screened were found suitable for work in Israel. Most of them are Indian.
Many of these Indian construction workers were previously employed in the Gulf countries as skilled manpower. Most of them are fluent in English, and even in Arabic.
Israel’s Ministry of Housing and Construction is currently working on a proposal to increase the number by another 10,000 for 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.
Israel’s Minister of Economy Nir Barkat had, during his India visit in April 2023, discussed with officials in New Delhi the issue of hiring about 160,000 people in various sectors.
About 18,000 Indians are currently working in Israel, mostly as caregivers. Many of them decided to stay back in Israel despite the war.
Israel and India also inked an agreement in May 2023 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.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry then said that 34,000 workers would be engaged in the construction field and another 8,000 for nursing needs.