Record number of live lambs and calves imported to Israel for meat in 2019
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Record number of live lambs and calves imported to Israel for meat in 2019

Nearly 700,000 animals shipped from Australia and Europe for fattening and slaughter; Knesset bill to stop live transports halted by absence of functioning government

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Screenshot from Australian TV's "60 Minutes" broadcast about live shipments, "Sheep, Ships and Videotape," shown April 8, 2018.
Screenshot from Australian TV's "60 Minutes" broadcast about live shipments, "Sheep, Ships and Videotape," shown April 8, 2018.

A record-breaking 691,327 live lambs and calves were transported to Israel for fattening and slaughter last year, the Israeli animal rights group Animals reported Monday.

The figure marks an increase of 5,514 over the number of animals that arrived in the country on live shipments in 2018 and continues a trend of annual increases in live imports (with the exception of 2017, which saw a slight dip).

By way of comparison, 95,545 live animals were imported for the meat industry in 2009 and 228,711 in 2014, Animals said.

Numerous reports of animal abuse connected with the live shipment industry have emerged in recent years.

A cow in a western Australian cattle farm still breathes after a worker who has never held a weapon fires four bullets into its body, in footage screened on Israeli TV, December 2, 2019. (Kan TV screenshot)

Just last month, harrowing footage emerged of cruelty at Australian cattle farms that send live animals to Israel for fattening and slaughter. The footage, screened by Kan TV news, was filmed secretly by two Israelis who secured jobs at several cattle farms in western Australia.

It showed an animal protection manager kicking and punching a cow; workers standing on, electrocuting and even shooting “for fun” at animals; dying cows being left to die slowly when there weren’t enough guns to finish them off and — in one instance — a cow still alive on the ground after someone who had never previously held a weapon fired four bullets into her body.

In late 2018, the Knesset green-lighted a bill in its preliminary reading to stop the live transports from Australia and Europe.

The proposed legislation sought to gradually reduce livestock numbers being imported into Israel and to stop them completely within three years, moving entirely to the import of chilled meat.

Since December 2018, however, the bill has not advanced because there has been no functioning government. Elections were held in April and September last year. But with no party able to form a coalition, a third national ballot has been set for March.

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