The Knesset advanced a bill on Wednesday that would institute harsher punishments for assisting, employing or hosting laborers who are in Israel illegally.
The proposed legislation, sponsored by MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), successfully passed its preliminary reading by a vote of 47 in favor to 14 opposed.
The bill primarily targets the estimated 50,000 Palestinians working or residing in Israel without permits. Should the bill pass into law, employers or other accomplices of illegal workers could face up to four years in prison and heavy fines. The bill would make such infractions, which are only misdemeanors under current law, into criminal transgressions.
The bill follows a number of recent fatal terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinians staying in Israel illegally. In September, 20-year-old soldier Tomer Hazan was lured to and murdered in the West Bank by a Palestinian acquaintance, Nidal Amar. Amar worked illegally at an Israeli restaurant, in Bat Yam, where Hazan also worked part-time. In a similar incident, IDF soldier Eden Atias was stabbed to death on an Afula bus by a Palestinian youth from Jenin, Hussein Sharif Rawarda. Six suspects were arrested and indicted for illegally employing, assisting and hosting the accused killer.
Similarly, the bomb that exploded on a Bat Yam bus in December was placed by a cell coordinated by a Palestinian residing in Israel illegally.
In the bill’s explanatory text, Yogev described the move as intended to “form another measure for deterrence to reduce the phenomenon and its risks, and to transmit a clear message from the legislature to the judiciary that it is of the utmost importance to make punishments more severe for accomplices, employers and hosts of illegals who encourage through their actions infiltration and illegal residence, and assist potential [terror] attacks.”
“This law will save lives,” Yogev said after the bill passed. “It will give the security forces, police and courts an additional tool to deter and reduce the incidents of illegal aliens and the danger they pose to the citizens of Israel; this is our responsibility for the protection of our citizens.”