Shortly before International Workers’ Day we spoke with four Palestinian workers. Although their homes are only a few dozen kilometers from where they work in Israel, the difficulties involved in reaching their place of work mean they remain there all week, away from their families and home environment. At times, they must confine themselves to living in rough conditions at their workplace, with no option of leaving it. As one worker told us: “I feel like I’m working in a small prison”.
On the first of May, the day designated around the world to honor the human rights of working people, we would like to turn the spotlight on the people working in Israel who are the most invisible of all: the Palestinians. Give a thought to the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have a work permit for Israel, yet must stand for endless, humiliating hours on line at crowded checkpoints. Think also of the tens of thousands who work in Israel despite not having a permit, people for whom every moment of their daily routine is part of a struggle for survival. For them, getting safely home cannot be taken for granted given arrest raids in which people are detained or injured even though they pose no danger, not even in the eyes of the security establishment. Under such conditions, a struggle for fair pay, reasonable working hours and a pension is no more than a distant pipedream.
This situation is not an unalterable force of nature. It is a direct outcome of the policy of Israeli authorities who prevent the development of an independent Palestinian economy. Work in Israel – with or without a permit – is the only option available to many Palestinians.
Spare a moment to think of the most invisible workers of all.
Suhair ‘Abdi, Data Coordinator &
Musa Abu Hashhash, Field Researcher, Hebron District
On 14 April, 2015, Israel’s State Attorney’s Office notified the High Court of Justice that in the case of Palestinian youth Samir ‘Awad it had decided to file an indictment for the minor offense of committing “a reckless and negligent act using a firearm”. This is a new low in Israeli authorities’ disregard for the lives of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and a clear message to the security forces there: if you kill an unarmed Palestinian who poses no threat, we will do everything to cover it up and ensure impunity. Killing a wounded, fleeing youth who posed no threat by shooting him in the back is not a “reckless and negligent act”. The disparity between the grave action and the minor offense for indictment is incomprehensible and outrageous.
Wadi Qana is a fertile agricultural valley. Most of its lands are owned by Palestinians from the nearby village of Deir Istiya, and they use it for farming and grazing. As of the 1970s, settlements were established on the hills overlooking the wadi; they discharged their wastewater into the wadi. In 1983, Israeli authorities declared Wadi Qana a nature reserve. Over the past few years, Palestinians are gradually being forced off their lands, ostensibly to protect the natural environment. Israeli authorities are now planning to convert the valley into a park studded with scenic routes, walking paths and sightseers in order to strengthen Israeli control of the area and appropriate it for the settlements. Israel must lift the restrictions on farming in Wadi Qana and quash the development plans designed to strengthen Israeli presence there, while excluding the Palestinian landowners and public.
At around 2:30 A.M on Sunday, 18 January 2015, the military arrived at the Ya’qub family home in the village of Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah. Entering the house, soldiers arrested ‘Ali Talji Ya’qub, 21, beating him and three of his relatives. The soldiers dragged ‘Ali’s brother, Ya’qub Talji Ya’qub, 31, out into the street and left him lying there, unconscious.
The Palestinian village of Hizma in the West Bank is home to some 7,000 people. It lies northeast of Jerusalem, largely on land declared Area C. Israel appropriated much of Hizma’s land for building settlements and the Separation Barrier. For many hours on 13-14 April 2015, in response to stone-throwing on nearby Route 437, the military prevented vehicles from entering and exiting the village. Restricting the freedom of movement of all villagers, most of whom have nothing to do with the stone-throwing, constitutes prohibited collective punishment.
Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank. In the very heart of it lies Area H2, which is under Israeli security control and has a population of 35,000 Palestinians and 800 settlers. The Palestinian residents of the area endure strict restrictions on their movement imposed by the Israeli military. They are also subject to violence by soldiers, police and settlers. We recently posted video footage of three different topics: a delivery of ice cream that simply had to be delayed at a checkpoint until it all melted; soldiers who entered homes of B’Tselem camera volunteers in the dead of night to wake and photograph the children there and “by the way” seize photos and footage by the volunteers; and segregated roads: the broad, properly paved part of the road for the hundreds of settlers, and the narrow, rutted side path for tens of thousands of Palestinians.
On 1 Apr. 2015, Civil Administration officials confiscated 12 solar panels, the sole source of electricity in the community of Khan al-Ahmar, near the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. In a bid to force out residents and seize the area, Israel denies the community access to the power grid and prevents any possibility for legal construction. B'Tselem urges the Civil Administration to return the panels and allow residents to build legally in their community. Israel must meet its obligations under IHL to act for the benefit and well-being of the residents of occupied territory.
The mother of Bassem Abu Rahmeh, a resident of the West Bank village of Bil’in killed when a soldier fired a tear-gas canister at him, petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice on 1 April 2015 demanding that the Court compel the Military Advocate General (MAG) and the Attorney General to reach a decision concerning the appeal over the closing of the investigation file, and to indict the soldier who fired the canister along with any others bearing military command responsibility for the killing of her son. In the petition, filed jointly with Israeli human rights organizations B’Tselem and Yesh Din, Subhiya Abu Rahmeh demanded that the Court put an end to the foot-dragging and the avoidance of conducting even the most basic investigative acts that could shed light on the identity of the persons responsible for killing her son.