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Teen construction worker, 15, seriously hurt on site; ministry opens probe

Boy hit by falling object in central city of Tira; officials, police to probe apparent employment of young laborer at site

Illustrative: A construction site in central Israel, on August 06, 2020. (Gili Yaari / Flash90)
Illustrative: A construction site in central Israel, on August 06, 2020. (Gili Yaari / Flash90)

The Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services Ministry said Sunday it was investigating the serious injury of a construction worker, age 15, at a building site in the central city of Tira.

Hezi Schwartzman, head of the occupational safety directorate at the ministry, said investigators and police would visit the site to open a probe into the incident and the apparent employment of a child laborer.

The teen was reportedly hit by a falling object. Magen David Adom paramedics treated the teen at the site, then took him ,sedated and intubated, to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.

Schwartzman told The Times of Israel that the matter will be fully investigated.

Under Israeli law children under the age of 15 are not allowed to be employed. There are also limits on employing older minors due to compulsory schooling till the age of 16 and restrictions on the type of work permitted due to safety considerations.

Schwartzman said that work on construction sites was only permitted for people 18 and up.

Schwartzman said that a year ago the ministry and Israel Police began a crackdown on underage labor.

He noted that so far there have only been a handful of cases found at construction sites this year and that the phenomenon is not that widespread.

A recent sweep targeted not only construction sites but also factories producing matzah for the coming Passover holiday, which begins Saturday night. Several factories were shut down, Schwartzman said, because they were employing underage workers to produce the unleavened bread that is traditionally eaten during the holiday.

He said various authorities including police and welfare services would be involved in dealing with the cases.

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

In 2020, the Haaretz daily reported that work accident deaths in Israel had increased by 56 percent since 2018.

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