B’Tselem Newsletter: International Workers Day
Written by Suhair ‘Abdi, Data Coordinator & Musa Abu Hashhash, Field Researcher, Hebron District
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.