Israel Shuts Major Crossing to Palestinian Workers

TULKARM, December 21, 2014 (WAFA) – Israel shut down on Sunday al-Taybi border crossing, west of Tulkarm to thousands of Palestinian workers who work in Israel everyday and have work permits, said a number of workers.

They told WAFA that they were surprised to find out that the border was shut down and they were not allowed to enter. No reason was given to them either to explain why they were denied entry.

Many Palestinian work in Israel and are issued work permits which enables them to enter from several designated gates stationed at the borders with Israel.

B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories said, “The West Bank has been under Israeli military rule for nearly 47 years. As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for the well-being, dignity and livelihood of West Bank residents.”

Though many disagree with the notion of Palestinians working in Israel, Palestinians have no choice but to work in Israel as unemployment rates skyrocket in the West Bank at around 25%, according to data published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

B’TSelem points out that Israel has followed several measures which led to the deterioration of the barely existing Palestinian economy, forcing workers to seek income from other places, legally or illegally.

Even though the Palestinian Authority controls a number of areas in the West Bank referred to as area A, Israel controls area C which is home to most of the water, land and any natural resources. By doing so, Israel makes it impossible for Palestinians to develop any industry to boost the economy and provide employment opportunities.

“In the present economic situation, the only option available to tens of thousands of Palestinians for earning a living is work within Israel, either with a work permit from Israeli authorities or illegally,” B’Tselem points out.

A worker who didn’t reveal his name told WAFA reporter that Palestinian workers suffer endlessly while waiting to cross borders to reach their workplace.

B’Tselem reported on the long procedure explaining, “The workers and their belongings are scanned with a metal detector. Then, they move on to stations where personnel check their fingerprints and their papers, including their entry permits.”

When an individual is chosen for additional inspection, it is likely to be humiliating, according to testimonies. The workers have to be at the crossing hours before it opens at 4AM to guarantee that they will reach work on time.

B’Tselem staff points out that despite the large numbers of workers who amount to 4,500 at peaks, not all eight inspection stations are regularly staffed to accommodate the large numbers.

Palestinian workers called on international legal and humanitaria