Israel bans Palestinian settlement labourers from work

Palestinians say preventing workers from reaching West Bank settlements for jobs amounts to collective punishment.

Palestinian workers banned from entering Israeli settlements
Palestinian workers were told they would be unable to cross into an illegal settlement area south of Hebron [EPA]

Israeli authorities have banned Palestinians from working in illegal Israeli settlements for the second day in a row south of Hebron and in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

Israel cited recent alleged stabbing attacks against settlers – residing in the occupied West Bank contrary to international law – as reasons for refusing to provide passes, which are issued on a day-to-day basis.

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According to Wajdi Swaiti, a construction worker from southern Hebron, Israel’s clampdown on Palestinians in recent months has affected them tremendously.

“These most recent Israeli crackdowns have forced us to be out of work for months to come, which affects our livelihood and our ability to raise our families,” Swaiti told Al Jazeera.

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Israeli authorities heightened security measures to prevent Palestinians from accessing the illegal settlements from the specialised roads leading there.

About 26,000 Palestinians work in the settlements, nearly 10,000 of them without proper permits.

Palestinian human rights campaigner Tahseen Elayyan told Al Jazeera that Palestinians often find themselves in a catch-22 situation.

“Palestinians want to work to raise their families, but often find themselves forced to work in illegal Israeli settlements built on their own stolen land. They have no other choice but to work there,” Elayyan said.

An army official said the measure would be evaluated daily.

“Security measures will continue in the Israeli communities in the areas of Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, and some of the communities in the area of Ramallah, the army spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority official in charge of monitoring Israeli settlement policies in the occupied territories, said part of the reason more Palestinians were working in settlement construction was because it is easier to obtain a work permit.


Palestinian labourers who seek work inside Israel must go through extensive security checks, and endure long hours at Israeli crossings. 

Elayyan said the recent ban of Palestinian workers in Hebron reflects a policy of collective punishment for alleged stabbing attacks.

Daghlas agreed. “As long as we have no independence and our borders with the outside world are controlled by Israel, we will always be punished for whatever reason the Israelis think of.”

Follow Ali Younes on twitter @ali_reports

Source: Al Jazeera