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regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 May 2024

First batch of 64 Indian construction workers leave for Israel

A total of 1,500 selected candidates are expected to leave for Israel this month

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 03.04.24, 05:31 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File Photo.

The first batch of 64 Indian construction workers left for Israel on Tuesday to work in the sector that used to be dominated by Palestinians till the war on Gaza began on October 7 last year.

A total of 1,500 selected candidates are expected to leave for Israel this month.

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While there is a large number of Indian caregivers who have opted to stay on in Israel through this round of the conflict, this is the first time that Indians will be engaged in the construction sector as part of a G2G (government-to-government) agreement which external affairs ministry spokesman Randhir Jaiswal had said
was “in the works” as recently as March 9.

The ambassador of Israel to India, Naor Gilon, wrote on X on Tuesday: “Today we had a farewell event from the first batch of 60+ Indian construction workers going to Israel under the G2G agreement. This is an outcome of hard work of many, including @NSDCINDIA (National Skill Development Corporation). I’m sure that the workers become ‘ambassadors’ of the great P2P (people to people) relations between India and Israel.”

There was, however, no official word from the external affairs ministry on this. Not surprising, given that the rush of applicants for the recruitment camps for these jobs had reflected poorly on the government which has a questionable record on employment generation.

The demand for construction jobs in Israel at a time when the country is in a conflict situation and particularly when India has issued advisories to Indians in Israel to move to “safe zones” has been projected by the Opposition as a reflection of the Narendra Modi government’s inability to deal with increasing joblessness at home.

Barring the conflict, work conditions in Israel — an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development country — are on a par with the developed world. The recruits have been assured a minimum salary of Rs 1.35 lakh, excluding other emoluments.

The NSDC has trained the recruits for the Israeli construction industry, which had in November 2023 asked its government to allow companies to hire at least a lakh Indian workers to replace the 90,000 Palestinians whose work permits have been cancelled since the Hamas attack.

The NSDC received a request for 10,000 construction workers from the Population and Immigration Authority, Israel, on November 15, 2023, for four specific jobs — formwork, iron-bending, plastering and ceramic tiling. The professional test was carried out from January 16 in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and 9,727 qualified for it. Israel may officially request 15,000 more workers, and Maharashtra and Telangana have offered to conduct the test.

While the war is the immediate reason for Israel looking towards India to find workers, Tel Aviv has been on this course for the past few months after it inked an agreement with India that will allow 42,000 Indians to work in Israel in the construction sector besides nursing.

The “Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Temporary Employment of Workers in Specific Labour Market Sectors in Israel” was initiated on May 9 last year during the visit of Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen to India.

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