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On the occasion of May Day 2024, DWRC calls on workers and unions worldwide to strengthen their solidarity actions with their Palestinians sisters and brothers facing an existential threat amidst Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza and brutal repression in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem

Ramallah – 1 May 2024 – As workers worldwide have commemorated May Day by reaffirming their demands for the respect of their fundamental rights, Palestinian workers have continued to experience death, injury, displacement, fear and the inability to care for and protect their families. This May Day, we have been mourning thousands of professionals in key sectors for the Palestinian economy and Palestinian society, in health, education, culture, the media, sports, law and engineering, and many other professions and occupations. As many remain buried under the rubble, mass graves continue to be uncovered, and findings of attempts at identification and investigations are pending, the true extent of these unbearable losses and the crimes that have been committed against Palestinians in Gaza, including health workers, are yet to be brought to light. Devastating losses have also been accompanied by a worsening of the socio-economic situation in the entire occupied Palestinian territories, as Israeli repression, collective punishment and colonization policies have increased significantly in the West Bank, adding yet more brutality to an already highly coercive environment aimed at forcing Palestinians to leave their lands.

Since October 7, 2023, the unemployment rate among the Palestinian labor force has risen sharply, from an average of 24% before the war to an estimated 50% or more in the first months of 2024. Latest ILO estimates based on data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) were that the number of unemployed reached over half a million as of January 31st, 2024. As most of the Gaza Strip has been turned to rubble during seven months of relentless Israeli bombings, shelling and ground assaults, 201,000 jobs or 71% of employment had been estimated as lost in Gaza, as well as 306,000 jobs in the West Bank. The closure of the Israeli labor market to most West Bank workers has caused an immediate and exponential increase of unemployment among male workers. PCBS indicated that the percentage of West Bank wage workers employed in Israel and Israeli settlements dropped from 26.6% in the third quarter of 2023 to 5% in the fourth quarter of 2023. The number of employed persons in the local market in the West Bank decreased by about 8% and the percentage of wage workers paid less than the Palestinian minimum wage, which is over three times lower than the Israeli minimum wage, increased from 12% to 15%. It should be noted that 45% of women wage workers in the West Bank were paid less than the minimum wage in 2022, compared to 13% of men. The current situation is likely to exacerbate issues inherent to the Palestinian labor market, which is a captive market subject to the whims and policies of the Israeli Occupying Power, such low labor market participation of women, high unemployment among women and youth, especially the most educated, low wages in local establishments and feminized occupations, and high informality of employment. In the fourth quarter of 2023, informal employment concerned 56% of employed persons in the West Bank.

Already prior to the current war on Gaza, Israel’s decades-long regime of settler-colonial occupation and apartheid, financed and armed by the US, doomed the Palestinian economy to stagnation at best, and recurrent phases of de-development, and robbed Palestinian workers of having their own sovereign and democratic state that can be held accountable for its social and economic policies. Despite the bitter losses, the shattered dreams and the failure of the international community to protect the most basic rights of Palestinians and enforce international law, more than ever, Palestinian workers aspire to and are determined to achieve freedom and independence in their homeland.

DWRC calls on workers and unions worldwide, labor movements and parties, to stand with the Palestinian people to stop this genocidal war, forced displacement and ethnic cleansing, and end Israel’s settler-colonial occupation, which cannot and should not continue to be accepted as if it were a “fait accompli”.  

We are deeply grateful to all those, who have been speaking up and holding solidarity actions for the past months. Your engagement is an engagement for peace and humanity, and it will not be forgotten. We call on those, who have been silent, to join them. International human rights and humanitarian law must be upheld at all times and in all circumstances. We demand nothing more, and nothing less.  

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