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Sharp rise in Palestinian recruitment for colonies

Palestinian labourers working in Israeli colonies are identified by numbers, not names

Gulf News

Ramallah: Recruitment of Palestinian labourers for West Bank-based Israeli colonies has risen sharply recently with more than 38,000 Palestinians now working in Israeli colonies, claimed a senior Palestinian official. About 1,800 of these labourers are women.

According to Shaher Saad, who heads the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, Workers, and Labourers, the number of Palestinian labourers working in Jews-only Israeli colonies of the occupied West Bank had increased despite the implementation of a Palestinian boycott of products from the colonies. “This is a fact which we have to face and handle,” he told Gulf News.

“Growing poverty and unemployment among the Palestinian youth has increased the number of Palestinian labourers in Israeli colonies,” he said. “We expected the number of labourers to go down but the statistics show that the number has increased sharply.”

Industrial zones at the Israeli colonies are in need of Palestinian manpower, which gives a chance for Palestinian agents to recruit as many labourers as possible for Israeli employers who deal directly with the Palestinian agents and pay them the salaries of those employees.

“There is no direct relationship between the Palestinian labourers and their Israeli employers — the labourers cash a maximum of half of their income and the rest goes to the agents,” he said.

“The Palestinian labourers live under extremely bad working conditions with no rights, but they have no other option,” he said. The Israeli colonies depend on the nearby West Bank cities. The majority of Palestinian labourers come from the cities of Salfit and Jericho, both of which are neighbours to several Israeli colonies with industrial zones.

The Palestinian recruitment agencies identify the labourers by numbers, leaving their names off. “When they call labourers in the colonies, they call them with their numbers not names,” he said.

Saad said that the increasing number of West Bank women working in the Israeli colonies has also been alarming, with minimum of 1,800 working in those colonies. Women are usually recruited for production lines in Israeli factories.

Commenting on the Palestinian labourers working illegally inside Israeli, Saad said that the number of those labourers has jumped to more than 70,000 Palestinians. “Those labourers are smuggled into Israel illegally or obtain commercial permits which give them access to Israel and there they search for daily employers,” he said.

Illegal labourers get into Israel through holes in the Israeli segregation barrier and this has resulted in the death of many labourers who insist on getting into Israel to win their daily bread as they do not have chances in their home cities of the West Bank.