Name: Eyal Siso, 52 years old, CEO of the Population Authority.
Who am I: Very sensitive to people, determined, orderly, brave, does not hesitate to make decisions, perfectionist in an excessive way at times.
Roots: Father Fess’s family in Morocco. Grandfather was a dental technician, father was born there and when he turned five, in 1956, they immigrated to Israel. They were a short time in the Habara in Haifa and then moved to housing for immigrants. Grandfather, who wore a three-piece suit in Morocco, moved to work at the Haifa Municipality until his retirement.
Mother’s parents, the Hershkovich and Greinik family, from the city of Iași in Romania. Their grandfathers were murdered in the riots that broke out there. After they got married they fled to Italy, lived there for a few years and immigrated to Israel a few weeks after the establishment of the state. They settled in the lower city of Haifa and grandfather started working as a distributor of “Krystal”. The parents met at school, dated at the age of 14 and married when he was 20 and she was 19. Mother ran a branch of the admissions office and father was a permanent paint maintenance man.
My girls: Neve Sha’anan. A happy childhood with many friends, trips, soccer, swimming, everything related to sports. Abby Greinik, mother’s uncle, was our neighbor and we would sing and perform together. In high school, I started studying at Reali and switched to an electrical major at the vocational school in order to have a profession. I was not focused on what I would do in the future.
Everyone was sure that I would enlist in a military band, and what changed the event was the decision to go to the naval formation, where I was caught. I finished a course, I was a fighter, an officer. One of the periods I enjoyed the most. I say that I was one person before the army and another after it, with a change in thought patterns, order, determination. When you fight in the fleet you realize that anything is possible. After five years in the army, I went on a three-month trip abroad with my girlfriend at the time and my wife today, but I got infected with a bacteria abroad, and I returned after ten months.
Cereal: My wife is a sales manager at a medical products company. We met in the army, she served at the navy base in Ashdod and then we found out that we lived not far away. We have three children and we live in Modi’in.
Career: When I returned from abroad, I was debating what to study. I taught diving, received a summons from the Shin Bet and in the end decided that I wanted to be a security guard at the Foreign Ministry, because there was no standard in the Shin Bet, otherwise my entire career might have been completely different. I flew with Deganit to Uzbekistan And during the year and a half we were there, the eldest daughter was born. In the meantime, I studied a bachelor’s degree in Israel and political science at the Open University and relevant courses at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Consul in Egypt: After a year and a half I was appointed consul and administrative officer in Cairo and the children attended an American school. These were four fascinating years that included the treatment of Azzam Azzam, I visited him every week in prison and to this day we are in touch. During my time there were five terrorist attacks, among them in Taba and the peace conferences in Sharm el-Sheikh, when every week the minister of defense or the minister of foreign affairs came. To sit in Egypt is not to talk about peace, but to make peace.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: When I finished the position, I was appointed head of a department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I did a master’s degree in law without lawyers, with Baruch Kara, Chiko Menashe and Ami Ayalon, I studied the aspects of law without being a lawyer. Three years later, I was asked to replace Yael Andoren, as head of the management and human resources department at “Emitim”, a position that I held for a year and did not like.
Division for Consular Affairs: Then the director general of the office called me and asked me to be the consul in India for three years. From there we moved to another two years in Berlin, and then I was appointed head of the division for consular affairs, which is the long arm of the Population Authority Abroad, which handles visas, status and administration. There the connection with the PA was established in Israel and Israelis were in need. We handled the arrest of Naama Issachar, the Oknin couple and brought to Israel the 1,400 Israelis who were stuck abroad due to Corona.
I filled the position for two and a half years and was in contact with Ayelet Shaked and Aryeh Deri. I told Derai that if there was anything in the future, I would be happy to hear, and when Tomer Moskovich, the previous director of the Population Authority decided to leave the position, Minister Malchiali recommended me. In February I started work – and there is still a lot of work ahead.
The passport crisis: The problem started with the switch to biometric passports, which require coming to the office, when issuing each passport takes an average of 12 minutes. The authority was not properly prepared for this in terms of personnel and equipment, and therefore a large burden was created, this in addition to the increase in the population and the corona virus. For a year the bureaus were closed and a huge gap of a million passports was created.--
We did in-depth work to understand how to bridge it and wrote a three-stage plan, immediate, medium and long term. We need to immediately add 2A, open more bureaus and transfer part of the process to digitization. The goal we have set: two million passports in 2023, a queue of up to a month and a passport in hand three weeks later, it is not enough, but it is a significant improvement compared to today. We introduced a measurement system to the bureaus, which gives data about each employee in all his actions, not only in passports, and thus we can regulate the human workforce as needed.
System for calling appointments: Soon a new system will be developed that will go through “available governance” of the digital system, and here too we will have to build a dashboard to analyze the data. She already had a good run at the Ministry of Transport.
Buying queues: I received ricochets that there was a problem of buying queues, and in the test we conducted we discovered bots that took queues and deleted 5,000 queues, then the Tik Tok advertisement came and intensified the event we knew. We do daily monitoring in the system and produce protections that are breached every time.
Citizens should understand that it is not necessary to pay money to make an appointment. Beyond that and much more serious, people give personal information such as ID number, date of issue and phone number, which can be used by criminals to impersonate them. We checked if it is possible to prosecute the queue sellers and unfortunately, this is not a criminal offense. It turns out that it is also allowed to sell a turn at the supermarket.
Biometric passports: For all those who are afraid of issuing a biometric passport, because they are afraid that someone will break into the database, I can reassure you that the system is very well protected and therefore it is difficult for us to switch to a digital issuance procedure for the biometric passports. By the way, the one who issued a visa to the USA and gave a fingerprint, is less protected, because these fingerprints are sometimes transferred between countries.
Passport issuing machines: This is a patent of an Israeli company for a “self-procurement machine” that will go into operation, and in addition we want to buy more machines to create passports. In the immediate phase, the passport production plant doubled its shifts and today it works from seven in the morning until ten at night, issuing 11,000 passports instead of the previous 7,000. Next year another passport manufacturing plant will open in Omer. We have also started digitization processes with the National Cyber Authority, which will allow access to biometrics from home, but it will take time.
Reinforcement of offices: We have decided to open the complex in Bnei Brak only for passports with advance appointments, and it will work from eight in the morning until ten at night, and at the end of the year, more offices will be opened in the center, in the Bnei Brak and in Nof HaGilil. To try and reduce the gap immediately, Moshe Arbel, the Minister of the Interior, decided to A complex operation, in which the bureaus in Bish, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa will open for a month without appointments. We are taking a risk, because of the fear that many people will arrive at once and we will not be able to respond to everyone.
To ease the pressure, we are planning to introduce a system by which a person will take a number, see where they are placed in the queue, be able to go drink coffee or run errands and receive an SMS notification of how many places are still ahead of them. The goal is to reach 300,000 new passports within a month. I say cautiously, that we will have to see how the business will work against the Israeli temperament. I issued a letter to the police commissioner and the mayors to prepare for increased security. Let’s hope that the move will be successful, but we will not hesitate to go back if it becomes problematic. I can say from here that those who do not need a passport for the summer and holidays should not come to the bureaus. It is better to wait and make an appointment.
Treating infiltrators: The State of Israel would like to return them to their countries because of social and economic problems, but since there is protection for Eritreans and Sudanese, we are in a policy of non-enforcement. The issue is sensitive and it is important for us to maintain the values of democracy, Judaism and humanity. We must regulate the eligibility check for refugee status, because the pace is slow due to the few and insufficient resources.
Custody facilities: I visited the detention facilities and was shocked, because a person denied entry to the country is not a criminal and should not be put in prison. The authorities of the Authority’s inspectors should also be regulated, so that they can protect themselves and not harm others. The refuse facility should be made more friendly.
leisure: I try to run once a week, if there is no choice then at three in the morning with the dog Joy. I have a lot of free time relative to my job at the Foreign Ministry, which is 24/7. Suddenly I have a few hours in the day to myself.
Looking ahead: I have two terms of four years and we’ll see what happens. I could continue to sit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and be an ambassador and I came to the Population Authority for the challenge. There is a lot of work to do and I hope to give my added value.