Ramallah, 11/10/2023 – The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine denounces an upsurge of acts of verbal, physical and economic violence against Gazan workers employed in Israel, which include arbitrary arrests, beatings and humiliating treatment by Israeli police, border guards and civilians, and denial of wages. The violence inflicted upon Palestinian workers from Gaza appears to be part of Israeli State-fostered and sanctioned retaliation and revenge against Palestinian civilians following the Al-Aqsa Flood operation by Hamas militants.
While the mistreatment of Gaza workers bears no comparison to the ordeal suffered by their families in the Gaza Strip, subjected to uninterrupted Israeli bombing and shelling since last Saturday, which has already caused thousands of civilian casualties (the latest Health Ministry updates indicates that over 1055 have been killed and 5184 injured, and more than 490 of the killed are women and children), it also constitutes a breach of international humanitarian and human rights law.
A 35-year-old worker from Al-Shuja’ia neighborhood, Salim, said that the Israeli police and border guards stormed the house that he and other workers had been renting for many months in Safad, destroyed their belongings, beat them up, handcuffed and blindfolded them. Salim suffered a broken hand and contusions all over his body. They were then transported by vehicle to an unknown location, while soldiers kept insulting them and using humiliating language in Arabic and threatening that Gaza will be wiped from the earth. Salim declared: “They put us in small rooms and cells in a police station, the place was very foul smelling. Ten workers were forced into cells made to accommodate three persons. For hours while we were detained, they kept interrogating us and denied us food, water and using the bathroom.”
Several similar incidents have been reported in the past two days. Another worker told DWRC that he and others were beaten up inside an Israeli police station, before being deported to Beit Sira checkpoint in the Ramallah and Al-Bireh governorate. After rounding-up and assaulting workers, interrogating and detaining them for hours in appalling conditions, Israeli police or border guards have been dumping them at checkpoints near Palestinian localities in the West Bank. Many workers have also reported being handed over by their employers or labor intermediaries to the Israeli police, especially in southern Israeli areas. All the workers that DWRC talked to in Ramallah said that their wages have not been paid. Some indicated that they are owed thousands of shekels for their work. They also said that the phones of workers rounded-up by the Israeli police, or handed over to the police by their employer, have been confiscated. “Lucky” workers were provided transportation by their employer or the labor intermediary to checkpoints leading into the West Bank, or have been able to reach them by foot.
DWRC condemns all acts of retaliation and revenge against Palestinian civilians, and is very concerned for the safety and well-being of Gazan workers, who are still in Israel, especially those with whom their comrades said they have lost all contact. We are also extremely worried by the immediate and long-term consequences of the steep rise of hate-speech, and dehumanizing anti-Palestinian discourse, by Israeli politicians, army officials, soldiers and civilians. Palestinian workers are already routinely victims of degrading and humiliating treatment by Israeli army, border guards, police and security agents at checkpoints, they have been regularly subject to arrest campaigns, shot at and killed for trying to enter Israel without permits, and subject to sporadic assaults by civilians, so violence against Palestinian workers trying to earn a living is not new and is well-documented. We are concerned that such violence will increase exponentially, and that workers might be massively laid off without compensations in the wake of current events.
We call upon the international labor movement to mobilize for the provision of international protection to Palestinian civilians, upholding the human rights of Palestinians, and to ensure that Gazan workers in Israel are protected from all acts of violence and are reunited with their families as soon as the situation allows.
We would also be grateful for any assistance to help provide for the urgent needs of Gaza workers stranded in the West Bank. While emergency shelter has been provided to them in community centers and some houses, conditions are already very crowded in Ramallah and more workers are arriving by the hour. Alternative accommodation will have to be found and many basic necessities will need to be provided, as workers were unable to bring anything with them. Workers we met with expressed urgent needs for clothing (especially underwear and night clothes) and shoes, as well as electrical cords and plugs, so they can charge their phones and keep in touch with their families.
For inquiries and further information, please contact:
Maryam Al Tibi,
 Interview published in Al-Quds newspaper, page 4, 11/10/2023, in an article titled “Al-Quds documents workers’ testimonies after they were arrested, mistreated, and deported to Jenin”