Ten foreign students who arrived in Israel to take part in an apprenticeship program in the agriculture sector were recognized last year by the State as victims of human trafficking, the Knesset’s Special Committee for Foreign Workers found on Monday.
Foreign agricultural students in Israel (Photo: Kav LaOved)
Nine Vietnamese students and one Rwandan student were recognized as victims after working in Israel as part of their agricultural education, along with 4,000 other foreigners from 30 nations annually. An Israel Police report studied by the Knesset committee, said 49 migrant workers were recognized by the Israeli government as victims of human trafficking in 2021.
Attorney Orit Ronen, head of the agriculture workers department in migrant workers in Kav LaOved (Worker’s Hotline) organization, said that the workers themselves tell a “different story” of their working conditions. The workers work “around the clock in harsh conditions,” Ronen said. “State laws do not always seem to apply to them. Most do not get paid even minimum wage and some do not even consistently get their monthly pay packet.”
According to a recent Kav LaOved report, an estimated 4,000 foreigners “agricultural students” from Africa, Asia and Latin America, come to Israel for 11-month programs which should include both studies and applied learning. The programs are run by a handful of Israeli organizations responsible for the studies and other aspects of the program, including placing “students” in individual farms where they live and work. Every year at Kav LaOved groups of “students” reaching out to describe appalling rights violations; monotonous and hard work; poor level of study; about one quarter of the meagre earnings from their work on the farm is deducted to pay disproportionate “tuition” fees; systemic violation of labor and social rights; extremely poor accommodation standards etc.
Kav LaOved report on trafficking of workers in the agricultural sector in Israel (in English):