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M.D., a certified nurse who works as a plasterer, sleeps on a mattress at the construction site, with no heat or facilities

Tarqumya Checkpoint, 9 June 2013. Photo: Haaretz.
Tarqumya Checkpoint, 9 June 2013. Photo: Haaretz. 

I live in the village of Beit Ula, which is in the Hebron District [the West Bank]. I work as a plasterer in the city of Beersheba, Israel. I have a degree in nursing but I decided to work in Israel because I can make a lot more money there. I got engaged a year ago and I want to get married soon and start a family.

I don’t travel every day from home to my place of work in Beersheba. I feel that’s practically impossible, even though I know that many workers do so. I prefer to sleep at my workplace despite the rough conditions, rather than endure every morning the ordeal of the exhausting journey from home, through the checkpoint, and then to my place of work.

Every Sunday I go to Tarqumya Checkpoint at around 4:00 A.M. and wait in line with thousands of other workers, all jostling and in a hurry to reach the checkpoint which opens at around 5:00 A.M. At that point the next stage of the ordeal begins – the humiliating inspections and searches. You’re inspected while other workers around you are pushing each other, and on the other side you hear the security personnel shouting.

And all that comes on top of what it costs to travel and the time it takes to make the long trip to Beersheba and back again. Even if I would make that journey every day, I wouldn’t have any time left to rest and see my family. I would have to get up very early the next day and make the trip again. I haven’t been back home to Beit Ula for more than a month, and I may stay here another month. I really miss my family and my fiancée. I know it’s very hard on them, too.

Work conditions in plastering are tough. I make about 250 shekels [approx. USD65] a day, for ten hours’ work. I sleep in conditions unfit for humans at the construction site. All I have is a mattress on the floor and a blanket. There’s no heating or basic washing or hygiene facilities. In winter I’m very cold and in summer the heat is terrible. It’s nothing like the conditions I have at home, but there’s no choice.

I prepare meals with the other workers to save money. Buying cooked food is expensive. We try to spend as little as possible on food so we can save up. The money you save is the only compensation for living in tough conditions far apart from your family.

M.D., 24, of Beit Ula in the Hebron District, is engaged to be married. He has a work permit and works as a plasterer in Beersheba, Israel. As he was at his place of work at Israel, he gave his testimony by telephone on 20 April 2015 to Musa Abu Hashhash, B’Tselem field researcher in the Hebron District.