BETHLEHEM, September 8, 2014 – (WAFA) – Israeli forces seized Monday a bulldozer from a stone-cutting factory in Beit Fajjar to the south of Bethlehem, said a local source.
According to Head of the Union of Stone and Marble Industry in Palestine Subhi Thwabteh, large Israeli troops raided and cordoned off Khalit Hajja area in Beit Fajjar, where they extensively searched some stone and marble-cutting factories, opened fire on Palestinian workers, seized a bulldozer and damaged an excavator.
Thawabteh noted that Israeli forces frequently targeted Palestine stone-cutting factories and industrial facilities, causing extensive losses to their owners.
The stone and marble industry is strategically significant to the Palestinian economy and is considered the biggest industry in terms of number of firms, sales volume and employment rates. According to the Union of Stone and Marble Industry, the industry supports about 15,000 – 20,000 direct jobs and the sector generates about $60 million of exports. The industry spread over the West Bank, but is concentrated in Bethlehem and Hebron districts.
According to the Applied Research Instiute of Jerusalem, the economy in Beit Fajjar is mainly dependent on the stone and marble industry, which absorbs 80% of the town workforce. The institute included workers in the stone and marble industry as the most vulnerable social groups in the village due to Israeli actions.
The activities of the town quarries and stone-cutting factories have been frequently interrupted by the Israeli occupation forces, which have seized numerous pieces of equipment and imposed fines on Palestinian owners, under the pretext that they operate without permission and being located in C Area.