Some 20,000 Palestinian workers paid $140 million to brokers and employers in order to get permits allowing them to work in Israel, Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed yesterday.
The workers make up 33 per cent of all Palestinian labourers in Israel, the paper added.
According to the report, workers paid upwards of $400 a month to get a permit, but field activists in the Israeli rights groups Kav La'Oved and Machsom Watch said they "heard of higher amounts being charged for each permit."
In December 2016, the Israel government decided to implement reforms that would gradually eliminate the link between Palestinian workers and specific employer in order to make it easy for the workers to get work permits without brokers.
However, Haaretz said: "Implementation has been slower than promised."
According to the website of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Haaretz said, "before the autumn Jewish holidays this year, 81,000 Palestinians were working in Israel."
"Some 27,000 of them bought their work permits, and the profits accruing to the permit trading network in the first nine months of the year reached 122 million shekels [$34.5 million]."
Each worker, Haaretz said, paid between $425 and $700 a month, stating that this amount was estimated about "one-third and one-half of their potential earning power in Israel." In some cases, the cost of work permits and the lack of regular employment meant Palestinians were taking "home only a few hundred shekels each month", which amounts to under $200.
Palestinian workers who buy permits also do not enjoy social benefits, including medical care of insurance which leaves them vulnerable to loss of earnings if they suffer an injury at work.
One worker who, "for four months now, he has been stuck at home after suffering an accident at an Israeli construction site. His employer and the broker have turned their backs on him. He says his employer even threatened to fire the workers who witnessed the accident to prevent them from testifying in court."