Knesset animal cruelty bill halting live shipments passes first hurdle

A Knesset bill preventing live shipments of animals to Israel gains broad support.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation announced Monday that it will throw its support behind a bill sponsored by Likud MK Mickey Zohar to phase out live animal shipments to Israel over the next three years.

If the bill becomes law, businesses will have to reduce their importation of sheep and calves from Europe and Australia by at least 25% a year, starting almost immediately.

According to government figures, an astounding 363,456 such animals were shipped to Israel during the first half of 2018 alone, which represented a 36% increase over the same period last year.

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel has declared in the past that he would reduce the number of such transports.

The impetus for the law is the recent revelation in various media of the cruelty these animals suffer on their long trips to the slaughterhouse, which aroused the pity of politicians and the public alike.

The sea voyage could take weeks, say the explanatory notes to the bill, and many of the animals get sick. “They are kept in overcrowded conditions, wallowing in their feces…suffering from extreme heat and injuries.”

The solution, says the bill, is to increase the import of frozen meat, which also costs less.

The bill also has the support of leading rabbis.

Several opposition members from various parties have put forward similar bills as well, so there is seemingly broad support to get this anti-cruelty legislation passed quickly.