International Workers’ Day: Rights Groups Call for Protection of Palestinian Workers

Palestinian workers in Israel do not have their rights as workers protected and are vulnerable to exploitation by employers. (Photo: via B'tselem)

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.”

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.”

“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.

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)

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