An animal rights group has released footage featuring livestock being violently unloaded off a ship in Haifa's Israel Shipyards port.
In a video provided by Israel Against Live Shipments, workers can be seen holding instruments which they use to rush calves off the vessel and load them onto transport trucks. The activist group alleges that these are electric shockers.
"The footage clearly shows that they used electric shockers on the animals even when they had nowhere to go and couldn't move forward," an activist for the group who witnessed the incident told Ynet.
The shipment featured in the video set sail from Romania's Port of Midia on the Black Sea to Israel in a five-day journey with over 3,100 calves onboard.
Israel imports hundreds of thousands of livestock by sea from Portugal, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, France, Serbia and Australia each year for its meat industry.
Barring any delays, each journey can take between 3 to 18 days in harsh conditions, including severe overcrowding, inclement weather, disease, and injuries among others.
Numerous instances of dead livestock washing ashore have been recorded in Israel over the years, the last of which was spotted last month south of Haifa.
Since the beginning of 2021, 672,000 heads of cattle arrived in Israel — the country's second-largest annual import of livestock since 2019 which saw 691,327 heads of cattle brought into Israel.
In response to the events, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said they consider any violation of the Animal Cruelty law to be serious, and they will continue to enforce the law. "The photo was taken from a great distance and therefore it is not possible to determine how the shocker was used, so the case was transferred to the Central Unit for Enforcement and Investigations in the ministry.
Responding to a Ynet request for comment, the Agriculture Ministry said that it takes cases of animal cruelty very seriously and it would act to bring offenders to justice.
However, the ministry could not immediately determine whether the workers seen in the footage were making use of electric shockers since it was taken from a great distance and relayed the video to its central investigations unit for further inspection.
Israel Shipyards said that the port is not involved in the unloading of the ship which is performed by the importer.
Israel Against Live Shipments co-founder Meron Lapidot said that the group has appealed to the Agriculture Ministry many times in the past about the use of electric shockers on livestock but has not received any reports about enforcement against offenders.
"We believe that the ministry's lack of treatment, punishment and enforcement further incentivizes importers to act cruelly to the animals. It's mind-boggling that the ministry turns a blind eye and almost encourages the cruelest industries, which along with their cruelty are also dangerous to us and to the entire planet. We will continue to monitor, document, file complaints and promote the cessation of live shipments immediately and permanently."