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.”