Construction worker killed at Ashkelon building site, in 35th case this year

Construction worker killed at Ashkelon building site, in 35th case this year

Police say accident that killed 22-year-old Ali Darawsha under investigation, but advocacy group casts doubt on commitment to stem plague of fatal work accidents

Illustrative: A Magen David Adom ambulance. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: A Magen David Adom ambulance. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A construction worker was killed and another was badly injured in an accident at a building site outside the southern city of Ashkelon on Monday, paramedics said.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said paramedics declared a 22-year-old worker dead at the scene, and rushed another to the city’s Assuta Hospital with multiple system trauma.

Paramedics said the men were standing in a ditch laying an underground piping system when one of the larger pipes fell on them.

Employee advocacy group Kav LaOved identified the worker as Ali Darawsha from the northern town of Iksal, outside Nazareth.

Deaths of construction workers in Israel are a near-weekly occurrence, largely because of poorly enforced safety codes.

Police said an investigation was opened and the details would be sent to a new department in the force tasked with investigating the large number of fatal work-related accidents. But Kav LaOved expressed doubt the case would be investigated vigorously, and predicted that investigators would delay several days before examining the scene or evidence due to the Jewish New Year.

Darawsha’s death on Tuesday brought the total numbers of construction workers killed in work-related accidents in 2019 to 35, according to the group. There have been over 60 deaths in work-related accidents in general.

In June, figures released under freedom-of-information laws showed that police have opened criminal investigations in only 25 percent of job site accidents that led to deaths or severe injuries for workers in 2016-2018.

According to Kav LaOved, 124 workers died in that time period in 118 deadly accidents at work sites, while 585 accidents resulted in moderate or serious injuries. Nearly all were at construction sites.

The scene where a crane collapsed at a construction site in Yavneh, killing four people and injuring two, May 19, 2019. (Flash90)

In response to the huge spike in worksite accidents, police established a special unit called Peles at the end of 2018, under the aegis of its serious crimes unit Lahav 433, which specializes in accident investigation. However, the Haaretz daily reported in June that the unit had only opened investigations into three of the 38 deadly work accidents that occurred in the first five months of 2019.

Police have said the unit is not meant to investigate every accident, but only those “with unique attributes, like complex accidents involving infrastructure collapse, or the sort that require expertise and resources,” according to a police statement to Kav LaOved.

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