‘Israel Still Center of Human Trafficking’ Says State Department

Israel is still a center of human trafficking and is “plagued with abuse” of that nature, the new U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2012 has revealed.

According to the report, cases of women from the former Soviet Union, China, and South America are subjected to forced prostitution in Israel. It was only in response to international pressure and outrage that the Israeli state passed an anti-trafficking law in 2006.

The report also stresses, however, that that the modern slavery problem is alive and well in the Jewish state. Israel is described as a destination country for people subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.

The report states:

“Israel is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Low-skilled workers from Thailand, China, Nepal, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, and, to a lesser extent, Romania, migrate voluntarily and legally to Israel for temporary contract labor in construction, agriculture, and caregiving industries.

Some subsequently face conditions of forced labor, including through such practices as the unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, inability to change or otherwise choose one’s employer, nonpayment of wages, threats, sexual assault, and physical intimidation.

Many labor recruitment agencies in source countries or brokers in Israel require workers to pay exorbitant recruitment fees to secure jobs in Israel – ranging from the equivalent of $4,000 to $20,000 – a practice that contributes to forced labor once migrants are working in Israel.

Based on many documented victim testimonies, an increasing number of migrants and asylum seekers – primarily from Eritrea, Sudan, and to a lesser extent Ethiopia – arriving in Israel are reportedly held for ransom and forced into sexual servitude or labor during their captivity in the Egypt’s Sinai.”

In 2011, the U.S. State Department ranked Israel alongside Third World nations for human trafficking.

The report for that year said that “Israel is destination-country for men, women subjected to forced labor, sex trafficking.”

This put Israel in the same category as Pakistan and Rwanda.