Slaughterhouse managers convicted for urging beating, electrocution of calves
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Slaughterhouse managers convicted for urging beating, electrocution of calves

Judge says defendants in Tnuva case caused immense suffering to animals in order to speed up production and maximize profits

A worker tries to get a calf that has collapsed to stand up at Tnuva's slaughterhouse in the northern city of Beit She'an, December 2012. (Animals Now)
A worker tries to get a calf that has collapsed to stand up at Tnuva's slaughterhouse in the northern city of Beit She'an, December 2012. (Animals Now)

Two slaughterhouse managers from northern of Israel were convicted of animal abuse on Thursday, six years after animal rights activists provided a consumer affairs TV program with harrowing evidence of workers there electrocuting and beating calves to move them along.

Judge Dalit Sharon-Green ruled at the Nazareth Magistrates Court that the managers of the slaughter production line at the Tnuva conglomerate’s Adom Adom facility in the city of Beit She’an were guilty because they supplied the electric shockers to the workers and encouraged the abuse.

Eliyahu Ben Machlouf Shitreet, 45, of Beit She’an and his replacement Baha Darbashi, 33, of the town of Muqeibla, south of Afula, supplied the shockers to workers to move the animals along more quickly, according to the charge sheet, electrocuting them in sensitive areas such as the testicles, stomach, head and face.

The shockers were used on animals which had collapsed, or stumbled and even on those which were physically unable to get back up on their feet.

Sometimes workers used wooden sticks and pieces of plastic piping to beat the calves on the instruction of the managers.

A worker at Tnuva’s slaughterhouse in the northern Israeli city of Beit She’an uses a wooden stick to beat animals, December 2012. (Animals Now)

Sentencing has been set for early in the new year.

Two other workers were previously convicted in the same case and sentenced to community service, which they have since completed.

In her verdict, Judge Sharon-Green wrote that the “extreme acts” carried out, which were “shockingly illustrated” in a series of videos, had nothing to do with procedures at the plant.

“Every normative person understands that electrification of a calf causes it to suffer. Every layman understands that repeated electrocution causes greater suffering. Electrification of sensitive organs — even more so. The electrification of a calf that has collapsed and is in pain and under emotional pressure — even more so than that. The electrification of a calf that has collapsed and is tied to the forklift cries out to the heavens more than the screams of all the calves together. No procedures are needed to understand this.”

Electrocution was used to maximize profits by speeding up the slaughter process or to get an animal that had collapsed back onto its feet so that it could be slaughtered according to the rules of Kashrut — Jewish dietary laws, the judge wrote. If an animal was not slaughtered in this way, it would be declared ritually unclean and thousands of shekels would be lost.

A spokesperson for the NGO Animals Now (formerly Anonymous for Animal Rights) called the verdict “historic,” saying it constituted a warning to the meat industry that there were laws in Israel and that animal abuse was a serious crime.

A worker pokes an electric shocker near the eye of a calf which has collapsed at Tnuva’s slaughterhouse in the northern Israeli city of Beit She’an, December 2012. (Animals Now)

“Animal abuse is a daily routine in slaughterhouses, an inseparable part of the production line which sees living creatures as raw material,” a statement said.

Tnuva and the Dabbach company control around three-quarters of Israel’s meat industry.

In February 2017, the Agriculture Ministry closed a case against Dabbach for “lack of evidence” before any charges were brought, despite video footage broadcast in mid-2015 that showed calves suspended in the air, still alive, after slaughter, workers hurling animals at iron gates and electrocuting them in the head.

The slaughterhouse was temporarily closed in June 2015 but allowed to reopen a week later.

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