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Israel To Bring 6,000 Indian Workers In April-May

To alleviate a severe labour shortage in its construction industry, Israel will welcome over 6,000 Indian workers in the coming months. This represents the most significant influx of foreign workers into Israel’s construction sector in a short period.

The decision was made jointly by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Finance Ministry, and Construction and Housing Ministry, who agreed to subsidize charter flights to bring in the workers. This “air shuttle” arrangement is part of a government-to-government agreement between Israel and India.

The need for additional construction workers has become acute following the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, which resulted in the revocation of work permits for a large majority of the 97,000 Palestinian workers previously employed in the industry. With Israeli workers in short supply, the construction sector has stalled, causing concerns about rising living costs and tensions between the government and businesses.

“Thanks to the joint financing of the PMO, the finance ministry and the construction and housing ministry, it was agreed approximately one week ago on the arrival of over 6,000 workers from India during April and May on an ‘air shuttle’ following the subsidizing of charter flights,” the Israeli government statement said.

The first batch of 64 Indian construction workers arrived in Israel last week, with further groups of 850 workers expected by mid-April. An additional 900 Indian and Sri Lankan workers have also arrived through private recruitment channels in recent months.

The influx of Indian labour is a timely intervention to address Israel’s acute worker shortage. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously discussed the issue with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in December 2022.

Israeli officials have acknowledged the need to streamline bureaucratic procedures that have delayed the arrival of approved workers from India and Sri Lanka. The government has now promised to establish a fast-track process for approving and transporting these foreign workers to Israel.

The construction industry is a key driver of Israel’s economy, and the ability to rapidly scale up its workforce with skilled Indian labor could prove crucial in the months ahead. This unique bilateral arrangement demonstrates the strategic partnership between Israel and India as the two countries work together to tackle a pressing economic challenge.

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