The campaign against the use of horse-drawn and donkey-drawn carts was launched over a decade ago by HaKol Chai, which means “Everything Lives.” HaKol Chai is the sister organization of the US-based organization Concern for Helping Animals. The newly approved regulation materialized from a HaKol Chai appeal to the Transportation Ministry and mayors throughout the country, as well as the Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Council.
The ban prohibits peddlers from using horses or donkeys to pull carts full of repurposed second-hand items. Peddlers used to navigate through the city streets collecting residents’ garbage, including anything from appliances to clothing and furniture, presumably for resale, scrap metal or junking. While some environmentalists praised the reuse of old items, animal rights activists argued that the horses were paying the price.
The committee did make an exception for animal-drawn carts used for tourist purposes, on condition the animals receive proper care and their health does not suffer from being used.. There is a concern that this loophole in Israel’s new ban may still be exploited by peddlers who might pretend to be transporting tourists. Activists argue that it would be in everyone’s better interest if pickup trucks or rickshaws were substituted for horse-drawn, and donkey-drawn carts, and carriages.
“Just as the alte zachen [“old things” in Yiddish] vendors can switch to pickup trucks, those who use carriages for tourist purposes can switch to an open car or rickshaw, without interfering with traffic or causing animals to suffer,” said Yossef Wolfson, a lawyer representing Israel-based animal rights NGO Let Animals Live (Tnu Lahayot L'hiyot).
Regardless of whether the ban is foolproof, it is certainly a step in the right direction. “Israel became the first country in the world to make a nation-wide ban on the use of horse-drawn and donkey-drawn carts in streets and highways. Many researchers proved that there is a direct connection between violence toward animals and violence toward people,” said Reut Reshef, HaKol Chai’s representative in Israel. “The decision taken today is an important landmark in the process of revolutionizing society and making the world more compassionate.”