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27 Apr 2024

Israel: Replacement of Palestinians with Indian workers leading to discriminatory recruitment & fee charging; Palestinians left without jobs or income

Following an announcement by Israel that it intends to recruit 100,000 workers from India to replace Palestinian workers, NGO FairSquare released a press release calling on the Indian government to refuse any agreement to do so. Palestinian workers' permits to work in Israel were arbitrarily cancelled following the 7 October attacks.

India may soon be asked to help Israel replace Palestinian workers who have been illegally detained, abused and are now being ethnically cleansed in the full view of the world. To agree to this request would be a craven green-light for war crimes. As one of the world’s largest democracies, India should devote its efforts to ensuring a ceasefire not profiting from more violence.
FairSquare director Nicholas McGeehan

A coalition of India's main trade unions including the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) have also called on the government not to send workers to Israel. The statement says "Such step will amount to complicity on India's part with Israel's ongoing genocidal war against Palestinians".

In February 2024, a podcast by Al Jazeera’s ‘The Take’ reports on the replacement of Palestinian workers by Indian workers in Israel, emphasising how Israeli companies are recruiting from India.

The podcast explores why Indian workers are risking entering a conflict zone, suggesting this is partly due to rising unemployment and a lack of opportunities in India. The podcast notes some workers having been charged extortionate recruitment fees by recruitment agencies ‘just for the chance of an interview’.

The podcast emphasises critiques by Indian trade unions, who argue putting Indian workers at risk is dehumanising, with links drawn with indentured labour and settler colonialism. Unions are also arguing the process will aid Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and its discriminatory practices against Palestinians.

The podcast also explores the relationship between the Indian and Israeli governments. It emphasises the involvement of India’s federal and state governments, who have been advertising Israeli jobs and setting up recruitment centres. The podcast links concerning trends in Hindu nationalism (from both the Government and in media) to pro-Israel sentiments. The podcast explores anti-Muslim disinformation regarding Palestinians in both mainstream media and on social media.

The podcast also notes discriminatory practices in recruitment in India, including recruitment agencies saying their jobs are for Hindu workers only: workers allege Israeli recruiters are refusing to hire anyone who is Muslim.

In April 2024, The Wire released an article highlighting “soaring unemployment” in India. It emphasises how the migration of Indian workers to Israel discounts the safety and security of the Indian workers.