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Animal Legislation in Israel

Animal welfare legislation is a relatively new phenomenon in Israel. While the Penal Code of 1977 prohibited animal abuse, it included no enforcement provisions. It was only in 1994 that the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, enacted two laws specifically designed to safeguard animal welfare: The Animal Welfare (Animal Protection) Law (hereinafter, “the Animal Protection Law”) and the Animal Welfare (Animal Experimentation) Law (hereinafter, “the Animal Experimentation Law”), both initiated by MK Abraham Poraz.
CHAI had urged the government to pass animal protection laws for many years, and CHAI supplied model legislation and expert testimony to the inter-Ministerial committee established to draft these laws, requested animal rights attorneys in the U.S. to provide critiques of the draft law, and provided those critiques to the committee. CHAI also sent surgeon Marjorie Cramer to Israel to testify before the committee about the need to include provisions to protect animals in laboratories. Dr. Cramer testified for over 4 hours, convincing the committee to create an animal experimentation law along with an animal protection law.
In theory, The Animal Protection Law applies to all vertebrates under various circumstances, with three exceptions. The Law exempts animal abuse in slaughterhouses; it allows municipal veterinarians to cruelly poison animals supposedly to control, not prevent rabies and other zoonoses (diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans); and it does not apply to animal experimentation.
Despite the fact that the Law should, in principal, apply to farm animals, the police rarely investigate allegations of animal abuse in the large factory-farm industry. The courts are also often hesitant to enforce the Law on the farm industry and other institutionalized animal abusers. Therefore, the Law remains largely on paper: in reality, it is enforced primarily on individuals who abuse animals, leaving institutionalized animal cruelty mostly unaffected.
The Animal Experimentation Law regulates animal experiments in Israel. It does not explicitly ban a single type of animal experiment. The Law establishes a National Council for Animal Experimentation, whose members — the majority of which are animal researchers — guarantee that the interests of the powerful bio-medical establishment are not compromised. It is therefore not surprising that to date, not a single non-animal alternative has been approved in Israel.
In addition to these two Laws, several other relevant pieces of legislation are reviewed.


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