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Palestinian workers in Israel protest dehumanising conditions at checkpoints

December 23, 2014 at 3:20 pm

A protest by Palestinians over deteriorating work conditions has been manipulated into a construction delay by Israel. On Sunday, Palestinians working inside Israel decided to go on strike indefinitely, protesting the daily humiliations inflicted upon them at checkpoints and border crossings in Tulkarem by the Israeli authorities.

The language used in a report by the Times of Israel clearly portrays the dehumanisation of Palestinians – contrasting sharply with a few quotes by Palestinians who make daily use of the so-called terminals which provide monitored access to Israel. Employing a tone of benevolence which commences with a mention of an increase in the number of Palestinian workers allowed to enter Israel, the report goes on to mention the construction of a new terminal which, due to construction delays, has not alleviated the daily overcrowding. According to a statement by the Israeli Civil Administration and Land Checkpoint Authority: “We are aware of the temporary inconvenience caused by the construction work which is currently at its peak and is expected to end in the coming months.”

Comments by Palestinian workers clearly portray the accumulating humiliation that is inherent in colonisation. From descriptions of the daily routine – including long hours waiting at checkpoints, the overcrowding and sustained injuries, to the degradation caused by unwitting acquiescence, Palestinians workers portray a situation succinctly summed up by one of the workers interviewed: “Let the Israelis see how we live … we build their state and they screw with our lives, that’s how it is.”

The quoted statements contrast with regard to the issue of permanence. The settler-colonial state’s insistence upon “temporary inconvenience” due to construction delays indicates nothing but persistence in perfecting the colonisation process. On the other hand, Palestinians are aware of participating in the physical construction of Israel due to oppressive conditions that prevent employment opportunities and freedom for the indigenous population. While Israel perfects its surveillance and control capabilities, Palestinians remain tethered to the indignity of fighting for a sliver of rights which will ultimately be transformed into another link to dependency, given the conditions that render work in Israel a step towards physical survival but divested of liberation.

Earlier this month, Ma’an News Agency reported on violence used by Israeli forces against Palestinian workers seeking to cross into Israel from Tulkarem. The workers allegedly lacked permits – the justification offered by Israelis for their excessive use of force.

Israeli rights organisation B’Tselem has previously reported on deteriorating conditions at checkpoints for Palestinian workers. Their findings were denied by the Land Crossings Authority, which refuted evidence of overcrowding. Recommendations remain the only point of reference for change, which are ignored by Israel. B’Tselem’s overview of human rights violations concluded with the necessity of Israel to allow economic development in the West Bank and stating that Palestinians wishing to work in Israel must be issued permits, “based upon appropriate security checks – and (Israel) must ensure workers’ rights are upheld.” Nevertheless, the reality remains one in which temporary ease paves the way for further exploitation, in concordance with the accelerating settler-colonial process ravaging Palestine and its people.

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