Israeli locksmakers say they face a shortage of locksmith technicians and are increasingly worried about the future of their industry, which employs about 2.3 million people in Israel.
“We have lost our locksmith, our locksheetsmiths and our lockshoes, so we are asking for the government to intervene,” said Nisar Moti, a locksmith from the eastern city of Ashkelon, who has been looking for work for months.
Israel has a long history of lockingmiths, which are usually hired by the state to work on behalf of the general public.
But many of the jobs that were created for locksmith employment in the 1970s and 1980s have since been privatized.
Moti said the government has not yet given any indication it will intervene.
“There is a lot of fear.
If the government does not intervene, the industry will lose its only means of livelihood,” he said.
The Israeli government does say it is prepared to help the industry if necessary.
The government last year announced plans to establish a national locksmith training program and establish a locksheet factory, though details of those plans have not yet been finalized.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the government will soon introduce new regulations that will strengthen the control of locksheeter workers and ensure that they do not face any unfair labor practices.
“The government will continue to provide jobs and support to the locksmith industry, but we will also strengthen the labor and labor-protection system to prevent any possible discrimination,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Israeli police said Wednesday that it had arrested at least 17 people suspected of stealing locksmith equipment from the Israeli military.
The police said the thefts occurred in the West Bank city of Hebron, which has a large number of Palestinian residents.
The police said they were looking into reports of thefts of locks, chains and other equipment.
Israel has also accused Palestinian groups in the area of carrying out similar thefts.
Some of the stolen locksmith gear was used to construct a military facility, the police said.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, a Palestinian locksmith said he was threatened with violence and had to move to another area of Hebrons city.
“I was afraid that if I told anyone about what was happening, I would be shot,” he told the television station.
In a statement Wednesday, Israel’s trade union federation said the latest thefts are a new escalation of the conflict.
Locksmiths have been on a downward trend since a decade ago, when the country began cracking down on lock thefts and locking thieves, said Naim Khader, an associate professor at Bar-Ilan University’s business school.
Since then, thefts have declined, but there has been a large rise in lock-picking.
Last year, about 2,000 locksmith jobs were lost, according to the Israeli labor ministry.
But there are signs of recovery, said Khader.
In January, Israel introduced new measures that allow locksmith workers to seek employment through the national security agency, the Civil Administration.
A similar process has also been used to hire locksmith apprentices.
Kader said the locksmaker sector, which supports more than 6,000 jobs, faces an uncertain future.
Last month, Israel enacted new regulations aimed at curbing the practice of locking locks in buildings, and limiting the number of locks on public transit vehicles.
The measures also allow the Civil Defense to issue temporary permits for lock pickers to pick locks in areas where the public is in a state of emergency, such as schools, hospitals and other public buildings.
According to a statement from the Civil Authority, Israel also plans to impose new restrictions on the use of locking devices in residential buildings.
The Civil Defense said the new measures would make it easier for locks and other devices to be disabled or damaged.