Israel has one of the world’s best track records in the battle against human trafficking, a U.S. State Department report said on Sunday. This is the eighth consecutive year in which Israel’s efforts in this area have been especially noteworthy.

The 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report ranked Israel as a Tier 1 state, leading the world in the struggle against the illegal trade in humans. Millions of men, women and children fall prey to this nefarious, multi-billion industry each year.

The Tier 1 group includes only 33 countries.

According to Israel’s Justice Ministry, the country’s law-enforcement agencies wage an aggressive and uncompromising battle against the local human-trafficking industry, which is believed to generate about $1 billion annually.

The State Department report noted that Israel takes a three-pronged approach to combating human trafficking, focusing on prevention, enforcement and protecting victims. According to the report, during 2018, 59 victims of trafficking and slavery were identified in Israel, 139 criminal investigations were opened, and 22 indictments were filed in connection with trafficking offenses.

The report, which reviews global efforts against human trafficking, has been published since 2001. It is divided into three groups, according to the efforts each country invests in combating this crime.

For more than a decade, Israel ranked in the third and lowest tier, together with the other countries whose efforts in this field were deemed inadequate, and was therefore vulnerable to economic sanctions by the United States. This changed in 2012, since which time Israel has maintained its top-tier status. Several Western countries, including Germany, Italy and Denmark, have unfortunately lost theirs.

Justice Ministry director General Emi Palmor, who heads a committee of directors general for the struggle against human trafficking, said the ministerial unit that heads these efforts “continues to lead the use of integrated tools in the various spheres in the struggle against the human trafficking. There is a good reason why Israel is on the highest level of the U.S. State Department’s report for the eighth consecutive year. We will continue to advance Israel’s efforts in this area and preserve its clear achievements, while coping with new patterns of human trafficking in all of its forms in Israel.”

According to Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana, “This is the eighth year in a row in which Israel’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking have been recognized internationally, and I commend the continued commitment and cooperation of all government ministries with the [Justice] Ministry. We will continue to act to increase enforcement against offenders in order to eradicate the phenomenon and to assist the victims of the crime.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.