Over 60 signatories comprising Palestinian human rights groups and non-governmental organizations sent today a joint open letter to the International Labor Organization (ILO), urging it to take action to protect the rights, livelihoods, and dignity of Palestinian workers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During COVID-19,” the letter said, the susceptibility of Palestinian workers to the pandemic has been compounded, with the Israeli occupying authorities continuing to prioritize economic considerations over the inherent rights and dignity of Palestinian workers.”
Israeli economy depends and thrives on the back of exploiting Palestinian workers, particularly construction workers, yet wants to hold no responsibility for their health and safety #Covid19Solidarity #MayDayPalestine
— Workers in Palestine (@WorkersinPales1) May 1, 2020
With the start of the outbreak, Israeli authorities allowed approximately 60,000 Palestinian workers employed in Israel to temporarily reside in Israel for a maximum period of two months during the emergency situation, with Israeli employers mandated to ensure adequate housing, proper sanitation, and food for workers.
“Yet”, the letter added, “workers have faced dire housing conditions, forced to sleep at construction sites or in greenhouses, while Palestinian workers displaying symptoms of the flu have been thrown at checkpoints without coordination to ensure they would receive treatment.”
The letter continued, “COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of economies across the globe, with the pandemic having the potential in the longer-term to dramatically amplify cycles of poverty and inequality.”
Palestinians who work in Israel (with or without permits) do not have their rights as workers protected – a reality that leaves them vulnerable to exploitation by employers.
Today, International Workers’ Day, B’Tselem is sharing the stories of 3 laborers:https://t.co/2n4X8grcAA
— B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) May 1, 2020
“It is, therefore, more urgent than ever to address the prolonged denial of the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people as the root cause depriving Palestinians of an adequate standard of living, including the right to work.”
On March 24, a Palestinian worker exhibiting coronavirus symptoms was found dumped by Israeli authorities at the Beit Sira checkpoint that connects Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Around the world, 1 May marks International Workers Day. The Israeli regime continues to exploit Palestinian workers in illegally occupied territories, leaving them without the rights awarded to citizens of the illegitimate state of Israel. #freepalestine #amandlaintifada 🇵🇸✌🏽🕊 pic.twitter.com/OuLR9bDmU7
— Wits PSC (@WitsPSC1) May 1, 2020
The worker was later picked up by Palestinian health workers and rushed to the National Hospital of Nablus where his COVID-19 test was negative, reported Wafa News Agency.
A few days later, despite the coronavirus outbreak in Israel, Israeli occupation forces opened several wastewater tunnels near the West Bank city of Qalqiliya to smuggle Palestinian workers back into the West Bank.
(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)