Israeli Police Officers Beat up Worker, Inflict Serious Injury

BETHLEHEM, June 8, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli Border Police on Monday assaulted a worker while he was attempting to enter Israel illegally to work, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Palestinian medics said the 45-year-old Samer Tabanjah from the village of Qatanna, northwest of Jerusalem, was trying to cross the border fence near Bethlehem when Israeli Border Police attacked him, causing him serious wounds to his body and head.

Tabanjah, who was seeking work in Israel, was transferred to a hospital in nearby Beit-Jala for medical treatment.

A fact sheet prepared by the Middle East Monitor highlighted the issue of Palestinian workers in Israel, describing it as a predicament. With a collapsing economy and 31% rate of unemployment in the West Bank, the number of Palestinians seeking work inside Israel is increasing gradually.

According to Kav La’Oved – Workers Hotline, on December 1, 2014, approximately 45,000 Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories were employed in Israel. A total of 25,000 workers were employed in construction and the rest in agriculture, industry, and service jobs. Another 27,000 Palestinians were employed in Israeli settlements, bringing the number of Palestinians working in Israel without permits from 15,000 to 30,000.

Middle East Monitor data shows that, “of the approximately one million Palestinian workers living in the West Bank, a very small number are allowed to legally work inside Israel.”

The Israeli +972 news website published a story in 2012 reporting that, “Pay is poor, social rights are virtually nonexistent, and conditions in the workplace are often hazardous.”

Yet Palestinians continue to seek work in Israel and around 15,000 illegal Palestinian workers are arrested annually, according to a spokesman for the Israeli Border Police.

Working in Israel is a decision that Palestinians make due to a persistent need to provide for their families amid the growing financial crises and intensifying Israeli policies that affect the barely existing Palestinian economy.

In a report by Al-Jazeera, a Palestinian worker described staying in the West Bank as a “slow death”, explaining why he and people like him “go into the unknown [in Israel] without work permits”.

Despite of Israeli view of Palestinian workers as illegal, the inhumane treatment remains an issue that many workers suffer from at the hands of Israeli border police.

According to B’Tselem, “Under international humanitarian law, as well as human rights law, Israel is required to ensure the livelihood of the Palestinian residents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories under its effective control, and guarantee their right to work and to an adequate standard of living.”

In the case of Palestinian workers, since 1967 Israel has deliberately prevented the creation of an independent Palestinian economy and has contributed to the grave economic hardship now existing in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

B’Tselem noted that Israel continues to deny Palestinians their right to work and earn a livelihood. Not only by denying them the opportunity to work but also by issuing no laws to protect them from exploitation by their employers.