Most Israelis are unaware that a large portion of the meat sold in Israel comes from calves and sheep that had been transported to Israel on long journeys from Australia and Europe. In 2016 the number of the victims of live export to Israel reached 571,792 animals.
Many people in Israel care for animals, and cruelty to animals causes public outrage. Animal protection organizations in Israel have been campaigning to end live imports. We initiated undercover investigations, protests and legal actions. We work in cooperation with Australian and European groups. In November 2015 Anonymous for Animal Rights and Let the Animals Live filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court, calling the Ministry of Agriculture to stop issuing import permits for animals destined for slaughter.
“Calves and lambs from Australia spend weeks on the way from their place of rearing to Israel – only to be slaughtered in Israel at the end of this painful way”, the petition says. “They are first loaded onto trucks and transported in long and exhausting journeys to Australian ports. Then, they are transported for two or three weeks in overcrowded ships to the Eilat port. During the long journey, they suffer from overcrowding, fear and filth”.
The groups claim that animal abuse continues after the animals have arrived at Israeli ports. Many complaints have been filed at the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture on beating animals during unloading and on transporting them in conditions violating legal standards – but the Ministry failed to enforce the law.
The Israeli Supreme Court has a record in decisions favoring animal interests. Most known is the Court’s 2003 decision to ban the force-feeding of geese and ducks for the production of fatty liver, which led to the closure of this industry in Israel. As the international trade in live animals can be substituted with meat trade, activists claim that there is no legal basis to justify the continuation of this cruel trade.
Anonymous for Animal Rights and Let the Animals Live stated, upon filing the petition: “The petition filed today exposes an especially cruel aspect in the life-story that lies beyond some of the steaks and other meat products in the markets and restaurants. After we have exposed the systematic abuse in slaughterhouses and farms, we wish to point to the atrocities happening in transports of calves and lambs, imported for slaughter in Israel. As a society we should not accept the transports of animals over continents and oceans, lying in their own excrements, just to eventually be slaughtered. As individuals we should remember that beyond each piece of meat lies the suffering of a gentle and feeling creature, a victim of a profit-motivated food industry.”