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Palestinian children are among workers exploited in Jordan Valley settlements

January 23, 2014 at 7:30 am

The context of Palestinian survival has become a source of exploitation, echoing the recurring oppression created by dependence. Reports compiled by Maan as well as a recent report by Al-Jazeera shed light upon the ramifications of imposed subservience, including the indignity of slaving upon occupied territory for the benefit of the occupying power, while being paid a meagre wage which does not cover the basic costs of living under occupation.

Statistics published by Maan have determined that 10,000 to 20,000 Palestinians are working in the Jordan Valley’s illegal settlements, of which 5.5 per cent are children. The settlements continue to be a source of displacement and disruption, with children diverting their attention towards labour in order to support impoverished families. This is creating a cycle which is hard to break as agricultural settlements continue to offer a semblance of relief, providing an account of the correlation between the remote possibility of achieving a better life and human rights abuses brought about by deprivation. Many children working in settlements are following a routine which started decades ago, having no other viable option but to follow their fathers into precarious employment at the mercy of Israeli settlers’ agricultural enterprises and dehumanising working conditions.

Education is relegated to oblivion as circumstances drive children as young as 14 to seek employment, despite the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulating that “children must be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or interfere with the child’s education, health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development”. The temporary financial relief of meagre wages entices children to seek ways of aiding their families, a process which in turn hampers education and renders them subservient to the exploitative occupation, thus consolidating the illegality upon which the state of Israel continues to thrive. The informal employment exempts settlers from any responsibility regarding possible injury and trauma occurring in the workplace.

The state of Israel has ensured that settlers benefit from subsidies and a higher standard of living as a gesture of gratitude by the occupying power in return for diminishing Palestinian prospects of retaining land for an independent state. Palestinian families have had their options nullified as exploitation ensnares communities by depriving children of education as the only resource which would enhance their prospects of a more decent life. A comparison of schools, play grounds and child care centres in the area depicts the stark reality of discrimination. The pristine conditions of Israeli playgrounds contrast sharply with rusting playground equipment which Palestinian children are expected to use. The theft of water continues, leaving areas inhabited by Palestinians almost void of life while Israeli settlers revel in lush lawns and abundant produce upon illegally-expropriated land.

Zionists might well recycle the argument of provision in an attempt to portray Israel as a benevolent state, even under such dire circumstances as the further erosion of Palestinian self-determination. Working in Israeli settlements reinforces the obvious hypocrisy surrounding the myth of “the only democracy in the Middle East”, maintaining a profitable economy by employing the expendables, until the undeserved but undoubtedly-aimed for supremacy is achieved.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.