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Israel bans sale of construction material to Palestinians in Negev

Palestinian construction workers [Yasser Qudih/Apaimages]

The Israeli occupation authorities have warned companies about selling construction materials to Palestinian Arabs living in villages "unrecognised" by the government, Arabs48.com reported on Sunday. The warning notices explained that the Israeli police will confiscate cement mixers and other equipment owned by companies which sell such materials to the residents of the villages.

According to Arabs48.com, these measures are a modification of an Israel law which came into force on 10 October which includes strict measures against the firms that violate the directives. Orders to stop work for 30 days can also be issued and enforced, and work permits can be rescinded.

The residents of the "unrecognised" villages described the measures as "illogical" because any work therein does not have a licence precisely because they are not recognised by the state. How, they ask, can the Israeli authorities impose such punitive measures and issue "stop work" orders?

The owners of the companies involved said that these restrictions "undermine work freedoms and violate [their] role in offering services to customers in these villages." They accused the Israeli authorities of attempting to "disintegrate Arab society and criminalise the Arab residents" in the Negev.

Arab MK Jomaa Zabarqeh, from the National Democratic Rally, is on the Arab Joint List in the Israeli Knesset. He told Arabs48.com that, "This escalation is a flagrant violation of the law of free labour." The MK noted that it aimed to turn the drivers of service vehicles into "investigators" working for the Israeli authorities. "This jeopardises people's freedom of residence and preparing homes that fulfil the needs of their life." With winter on the way, he pointed out, people would suffer too much due to the extreme weather.

The head of the Chamber of Commerce in the Negev city of Rahat, Khalid Abu-Latif, said, "These practices of the Israeli government aim to destroy the economy in the Negev and minimise the commercial activities of the Arabs there in order to exploit them to carry out the state agenda." This, he added, is a continuation of the Israeli idea that the Palestinian Bedouin in the area pose a danger to the state. "The government does not want a prosperous future for us, so it is imposing permanent sanctions on us. We do not consent and we will not accept these policies."

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