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Workers from South Asia are traveling to Israel, where the need for labor has become more urgent since the Hamas-led attack in October.

The Israeli government closed West Bank border crossings, barring thousands of Palestinians from work, and many of the foreign workers Israel relies on to run its farms and construction industries left the country. Most of the approximately 30,000 foreign agricultural workers in Israel came from Thailand, and dozens of them were kidnapped or killed on October 7th.

Thousands of people from India and Sri Lanka will be sent to Israel in the coming weeks, officials from the three countries said, as part of deals to provide workers, primarily in construction, health care and agriculture. Both India and Sri Lanka are suffering from high unemployment, and officials said they had received thousands of applications for construction jobs in Israel.

Mukesh Ranjan, a construction worker in the northern Indian state of Haryana, said that despite the danger posed by the war in Gaza, he and dozens of others from his village applied for construction jobs through a state government agency, which they received more than 2,500 applications.

Mr Ranjan said if selected he would use the wages to fund better education for his two teenage daughters and pay off debts incurred by losses on his farm.

“I will take advantage of the opportunity,” he said.

The recruitment is part of a deal struck between India and Israel in May that would grant work permits to 42,000 Indian workers, Indian news media reported. About 34,000 workers would be employed in construction and 8,000 in health care.

About 10,000 Sri Lankan workers are already employed in Israel, mostly as caregivers in the health sector. Bandula Gunawardena, a Sri Lankan government minister, said the country reached an agreement with Israel in November to send more agricultural workers, and the first group had already traveled there.

Recruitment in South Asia is not intended to fill the gap left by Palestinian workers, but is part of meeting existing quotas for foreign workers, Israeli officials said.

Inbal Mashash, the director of the Foreign Workforce Administration in the Israel Population and Immigration Authority, said that the Israeli economy is under pressure due to the exodus of foreign workers, the call-up of more Israeli reservists for military service and restrictions on the entry of Palestinians from the West Bank stand.

“There is no doubt that the economy is in some sort of crisis right now as it relates to the workforce,” she said.

Representatives of the Israel Builders Association, a private organization, said they were testing workers for construction jobs in India and that exams would begin soon in Sri Lanka, where thousands have applied.

Before Oct. 7, about 80,000 Palestinian workers were employed in the construction industry in Israel, said Shay Pauzner, deputy director of the Builders Association. There were also 18,000 foreigners from Eastern Europe and China and another 200,000 Israelis.

Overall, the number of Palestinian workers entering Israel daily from the West Bank has fallen to about 8,000 from 124,000 before Oct. 7, said Shani Sasson, a spokeswoman for COGAT, the Israeli defense agency that oversees policy for the Palestinian territories .

There is resistance to recruitment in India. The country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has moved closer to Israel, with which it now has extensive defense relations but has also long advocated for the rights of Palestinians.

K. Hemalata, president of the Construction Workers Federation of India, said she was concerned that Israel was using Indian workers to disadvantage Palestinians. “We are absolutely against it,” she said.

However, Ms. Mashash of the Israel Immigration Service said that foreign workers “do not replace Palestinian workers” whose work permits have not been revoked.

Johnatan Reiss and Pamodi Waravita contributed reporting.

— Sameer Yasir and Nadav Gavrielov report from New Delhi and Tel Aviv