New Delhi: The Indian government is yet to respond to inquiries about whether it would permit Indian citizens to work in conflict zones while Operation Ajay, the evacuation process from Israel, is ongoing. The ongoing conflict in Israel has disrupted work in the construction industry since October 7th, with approximately 25% of the workforce being Palestinian labourers.
However, due to the conflict, Palestinian labourers are currently unable to work in Israel. Around 10% of these Palestinian workers come from Gaza, the epicentre of the conflict, while the rest are from the West Bank. Israel has been seeking workers from India for several months, with an agreement signed in May that will allow 42,000 Indians to work in Israel, primarily in the construction sector facing a labour shortage, as well as in nursing.
The Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Temporary Employment of Workers in Specific Labor Market Sectors in Israel was signed on May 9 during Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s visit to India. This marks the first time the Israeli construction sector has opened up to Indian workers, who were previously mainly engaged as caregivers.
The agreement also includes provisions for nursing staff. This agreement had been in development for over a year before being finalized, with a multi-ministerial Israeli team visiting India in March and inspecting training centres across the country.
According to the Population and Immigration Authority in Israel, incoming Indian workers are viewed favourably for their diligence, experience, and English language proficiency. The preference for foreign workers over Palestinians is due to the greater reliability and reduced disruptions in work caused by frequent closures of movement in and out of Gaza and the West Bank.