Under the rubric of fighting Hamas’s influence in the West Bank, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) has flagrantly fired hundreds of school teachers and other civil servants from their jobs for unexplained “security reasons.”
The dismissals were ordered by the American-funded security agencies, such as the General Intelligence (Mukhabarat) and the Preventive Security Force (PSF), both notorious for systematically violating the human and civil rights of Palestinian citizens.
The PA doesn’t spell out the exact reasons behind the dismissals and often invokes the mantra that the “the government has the right to dismiss any public employee without any explanation.”
More to the point, the security agencies have instructed some human rights groups to stop receiving complaints from the victims of the dismissal policy, which is a clear violation of the law.
Feeling that they are being unjustly treated, many aggrieved teachers have lately decided to sue the PA, in the hope that the Palestinian justice system, which is struggling to rid itself from the invasive intervention and brazen disregard by the security apparatus, would listen to their genuine grievances.
However, with the conspicuous hegemony of the security agencies over all aspects of life in the West Bank, it is more likely that the dismissed public servants will have to suffer further, at least until the rule of law is restored and the police-state structure comes to an end.
One of the tragic consequences of this real inquisition against mainly Islamic-oriented civil employees is that many of those abruptly fired from their jobs have sought work at Jewish settlements in order to support their families.
Others are even contemplating leaving or even emigrating for good. Unfortunately, the PA government has done next to nothing to end this scandalous phenomenon.
This week, one of the dismissed teachers, abruptly fired from his job several months ago for reasons he says he doesn’t know or understand, decided to sue, inter alia, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Minister of Education.
The following are excerpts of an appeal he decided to circulate publicly in the hope of forcing the PA government to reinstate him in his job:
“I am Ahmed M. Abdul Qader Qazzaz, 43, and married with five children. I live in the town of Dura, near al Khalil (Hebron). I obtained a BA in English Literature from the University of Hebron in 1991.
I hail from a large struggling family that constantly valued and continues to value education. Moreover, my family has a long history of resisting the Israeli occupation. My paternal uncle, Ahmed, was killed on 28 February 1966 during an armed clash with the Israeli army near Beir al Saba’, not far from the former armistice line.
My father, who is now in his early 70s, was arrested several times by the Israeli occupation authorities and spent six years in Israeli detention for resisting the Israeli occupation. (He had been arrested by the Jordanian authorities as well before 1967)
My brothers Abdul Qader, Anwar, Amjad and Mahmoud were also arrested by the Israelis on several occasions, with Mahmoud spending five years in Israeli custody on charges that he was a member of Fatah’s military wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in the Southern Hebron hills.
Nonetheless, it seems that all this history of resistance against the Zionist occupiers has made little or no impression on PA security authorities as is evident from their mistreatment and persecution of our family.
In 1996, I was accepted as a teacher at a local boarding school known as the Islamic Siddique School (a private school). In 2006, however, I decided to move to a public school in order to ensure future pension and retirement benefits. I took the standard exam for new teachers and received the highest score among all applicants. In the same year, the Ministry of Education formally hired me as a public-sector teacher but instructed me to stay at the Islamic boarding school while continuing to receive my salary from the government as any other civil servant.
In April, 2009, I was notified that I had a problem with the General Intelligence (GI) and that I would have to settle the problem with them. When I went to GI offices in Dura, I was told that the problem had been resolved and that I would soon be reinstated in my job.
Nonetheless, in the last week of October, 2009, I was surprised to receive a terse letter stating that I was fired from my job because the two security agencies, the GI and PSF didn’t grant me a security clearance. The letter shocked me as I had always been an outstanding teacher with no political affiliation or history of political activism.
Unwilling to surrender to this naked injustice, I decided to file a suit against Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Minister of Education as well as two other officials. The case bears the number 2009/876 and is pending at the Palestinian High Court of Justice in Ramallah.
Actually, I have not been the sole target of persecution at the hands of the PA security apparatus.
Two years ago, my sister Haifa was fired from her teaching job despite the fact that she excelled in her in her field as is clear from school records. She, too, is appealing for justice.
Moreover, my brother Omar was fired from his teaching job only 9 days after his appointment. Again no convincing reason was given to explain or justify his abrupt dismissal.
And then came my turn a few months ago.
I therefore appeal and strongly urge Prime Minister Fayyad and his government to reconsider this grave and dangerous path which seriously undermines the educational process and corrodes its sacredness and credibility.
In any case, it is an expression of misgovernment to make the educational process at mercy of political fluctuations in Occupied Palestine as this would have, and actually is having, disastrous ramifications on the quality of education our children are receiving.
I also appeal and urge in the strongest terms the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and its Central and Revolutionary Councils to immediately reinstate me and my brother and sister in our jobs.
Finally, I appeal to the Ministry of Justice and the High Court of Justice to uphold the value of justice in our tormented country.
Indeed, if we don’t uphold justice in our treatment of each other, how can we expect others to treat us justly?”
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.