The Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee passed a regulation on Sunday to ban all horse and donkey-drawn carts from city streets, making Israel the first country to impose a nationwide ban.
The ban came after years of campaigning from animal rights organization Hakol Chai, who worked with the police and the Transport Ministry in the drafting of the legislation.
“In Israel, as throughout the Middle East, horses and donkeys have long been the victims of abuse. People have used them to carry heavy loads, like furniture, watermelons and other fruits and vegetables in summer, and rocks from construction sites,” explains Hakol Chai.
The organization started campaigning over ten years ago to end this abuse. During the years, they documented horses and donkeys starved, beaten, forced to endure extreme temperatures without cover or water, and simply discarded and abandoned when they became too ill or weak to continue working.
“Most of these animals are not licensed, inspected, or provided with veterinary care. Often, they are fed only the damaged produce or nutritionally inadequate forage containing burrs that cause sores in their mouths,” the organization added.
The approved legislation bans all animal-drawn carts from the cities, with the exception of carriages aimed at tourists.
Activists welcomed the news although remained concerned that allowing carriages for tourism would mean many non-legitimate people would find a way to still operate their carts.
“We are thrilled at this victory in our struggle to end this cruel, outmoded phenomenon that has no place in the modern state of Israel,” said Hakol Chai representative, Reut Reshef.
“And we are grateful to the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee and the Transportation Ministry for taking this giant leap forward. Numerous studies have proven that violence toward animals and toward humans are linked.
“Today’s landmark decision will contribute to a more compassionate society and a more compassionate world.”
The regulation will come into effect six month after its official publication.