Video: Palestinian laborers on why they work in Israel despite checkpoints and danger

Israel/Palestine
and on 10 Comments

Every morning, hours before dawn, around 30,000 Palestinian laborers make their way from the occupied West Bank, where they live, and enter Israel. These workers, desperate to keep their jobs, arrive at the checkpoints hours early, sleeping on concrete on the Israeli side of the checkpoint they make it through with time to spare.

Workers say they work in Israel for a variety of reason, but most point to a lack of opportunity, high unemployment and low wages in the occupied West Bank. West Bank Palestinian workers in Israel make an average of around $65 a day, more than double the average daily wage in the West Bank.

However, with a high demand for work permits, which are only granted to a fraction of applicants, workers have no job security, creating dangerously helpless situations for thousands. With the onslaught of recent violence, things have only gotten worse for these men urgently trying to make a living for their families.

Abed Abu Shierra knows the men who cross through the Bethlehem 300 checkpoint well, getting to know thousands of faces as he serves them coffee on their way through every morning.

“It started to get worse for people being stuck like this at the start of this new Intifada,” Abu Shierra explains to Mondoweiss. “Before the situation was a little bit better.”

About Abed Al Qaisi

Abed Al Qaisi is a freelance multimedia journalist covering conflict in the Middle East and Europe. Abed has done work for Al Jazeera English, USA Today, Vice News and more.

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About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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10 Responses

  1. Marnie
    December 18, 2015, 1:36 am

    I look at the faces of these men and I feel so ashamed. They are doing everything they can to provide for themselves and their families with the horrible wages they earn. I see dignity in their faces and know their wives and children must be very proud of them, as well as worried that they come in harm’s way to and from work, intensified now because of the current situation. I have alot of respect for these men and women.

    The PA is corrupt and impotent. The fact the Palestinian people have been reduced to begging for crumbs from the very table the zionists stole continues to be the shame and responsibility of the west for allowing it to happen in the first place. God bless Palestine and her people –

  2. Annie Robbins
    December 18, 2015, 2:45 am

    incredible video/report. thank you Sheren Khalel and Abed Al Qaisi.

  3. rosross
    December 18, 2015, 8:06 pm

    For the same reason blacks worked for apartheid South Africa – they had to survive.

  4. Star Blue Bright
    December 19, 2015, 4:24 am

    These men should be congratulated. I admit that the wages are a bit low, but they are helping to build an empire. The government should make it easier for them to get to work.

    • Mooser
      December 19, 2015, 8:03 pm

      “but they are helping to build an empire.”

      Gee, Mr. “Star Blue Bright” what kind of an “empire” are these men helping to build? Does it have a name? Is there some reason why you avoid saying it?

      • Annie Robbins
        December 19, 2015, 11:51 pm

        mooser, this is the same visionary who claimed “in the future, most of Syria will be part of the State of Israel….I look forward to the day when the Star of David flies over Damascus.” http://mondoweiss.net/2015/12/israel-should-golan#comment-815782

        so i assume he means that empire.

      • Mooser
        December 20, 2015, 4:35 pm

        Well, it can’t be much of an “empire” if “Bright Blue Star” is afraid to even name it.
        Or maybe his fingers, being quicker than his eye to apprehend the historical and political absurdity, not to mention the moral travesty, implied by the locution, simply refused to type the words. Hard to say.

  5. Ossinev
    December 20, 2015, 6:35 am

    @Annie
    I think perhaps he has a vision of some kind of Zionist Caliphate empire.

  6. jackal
    December 26, 2016, 6:37 pm

    I was just listening to an on-line lecture by Ilan Pappe on the morality of the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people. He said that the Israelis have no shame in what they are doing. They have been indoctrinated since they were very young that they were the “chosen” people, that Arabs were no better than dogs, etc. etc. There is a very small portion of the Israeli population, perhaps those that have had a chance to travel, who have seen, in particular in some of the more democractic countries of Europe, that other nationalities have accepted people of Arab desent on an equal basis, and are therefore less biased than the majority of Israelites.
    However, when you have people like “Star Blue Bright” as someone who is perhaps espousing the traditional propaganda of the Israeli gov’t under the leadership of a Yahoo, you can understand why a Palestinian would be willing to risk his life on a knife v.s. gun attack on an IDF soldier.

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