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PHOTOS: Pepper spray and arrests as Bil'in marks decade of struggle

Text by Haggai Matar
Photos by Yotam Ronen, Shiraz Grinbaum, Miki Kratsman /

Nearly 1,000 protesters — Palestinians, Israelis and internationals — marched to celebrate 10 years of popular struggle in the West Bank village Bil’in. Soldiers responded with tear gas, pepper spray and arrests. One Palestinian was badly wounded. Meanwhile, activists marked 21 years since the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, and called to open Shuhada Street to Palestinians.

Approximately 1,000 protesters, most of them Palestinian, 100 Israelis and dozens of international activists took part in a large protest in Bil’in on Friday, marking ten years of popular struggle against the wall, the settlements and the occupation. Meanwhile, hundreds marched in Hebron to mark 21 years since the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre, and demanded that the Israeli army open Shuhada Street to Palestinian traffic.

Over the last ten years, Bil’in has become an international symbol of popular, nonviolent resistance to the occupation, the settlements and the separation barrier. The village’s main road was decorated with photographs taken by Activestills, who have accompanied the struggle since day one. Decorations made of spent tear gas canisters were also hung. By 10 a.m., members of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee — who lead the struggle in Bil’in — were joined by committee members from other villages; Israeli activists; journalists; members of the Joint Arab List MK Dov Khenin and Aida Touma-Sliman; and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mustafa Barghouti.

The march to the separation wall began shortly after noon, using the same route the residents have taken week after week for the past decade. The original separation fence kept some 1,950 dunams (480 acres) of Bil’in’s land on the Israeli side, for the purpose of expanding the Modi’in Illit settlement. The High Court, however, ruled that the fence must be moved, and after four years of waiting, the Israeli government built a new wall that only swallows some 1,300 dunams (320 acres) of the village’s land.

Friday’s protest was lead by a group of Palestinian scouts, who carried Palestinian flags and drums. They were followed by the demonstrators, who sang songs and chanted against the wall, the settlements and the occupation. As opposed to previous weeks, when Israeli soldiers greeted the protesters and tried to put down the demonstration at the site of the old route of the fence, this time soldiers waited behind...

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'A consciousness free of occupation': Bil'in marks 10 years of popular struggle

The village that managed to unite the world behind the spirit of nonviolent Palestinian protest marks not only a decade of tear gas, night raids and tragedy, but also of co-resistance and victories in its struggle against settlements, the separation barrier and the occupation.

Anyone who has visited the West Bank village of Bil’in on a recent Friday might think, just for a second, that they were back in 2005. At first glance, it seems like nothing has changed since the days of the first protests, which began 10 years ago this month.

Now, as then, the protesters — mostly villagers, some supportive Israelis and internationals — gather in the heart of the village following the Friday noon prayers. We march and chant until we passed built-up part of the village. Now, just like then, the soldiers are waiting on the hill across the valley. They don’t waste any time shooting large volleys of tear gas in order to disperse the protest. Some of the protesters quietly break away, while village youth respond to the soldiers by throwing stones; the soldiers continue with the gas, charging toward the village in their jeeps in order to chase away the protesters. Within two hours it is all over.

But in reality, much has changed in Bil’in. Over the course of the past 10 years, hundreds of protesters have been to the village. The Israeli Defense Ministry cleared olive trees from entire tracts of land and erected the separation barrier. A petition the villagers filed in Israel’s High Court of Justice succeeded in moving the fence — and to some degree, the soldiers. Only recently did they return to the previous route of the fence — the same one the court ruled against. Hundreds have been wounded, two protesters were killed, hundreds have been arrested and imprisoned for years at a time.

Over the past 10 years the struggle has seen ups and downs. Its biggest achievement was winning back hundreds of dunams of agricultural land, a victory which made Bil’in a symbol of popular resistance to the separation fence, settlements, and military rule in the Occupied Territories across the world. A film made by one of the villagers was nominated for an Oscar. Former presidents and prime ministers from far away lands journeyed to the village. Deep friendships developed among the activists. Those who were small children at...

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Palestinian activist explains the Israeli elections

Bil’in protest leader Abdullah Abu-Rahme: If Israelis must decide between Labor and Likud, they might as well just vote for Liberman instead.

The residents of the West Bank village Bil’in are in close contact with the Israeli state. For the past ten years, they have been waging a popular struggle against the separation barrier that has cut them off from most of their land, while withstanding heavy oppression from the army, including arrests, tear gas, raids on the village, and more. As non-Jewish subjects of military rule in the occupied territories, the residents of Bil’in have no right to vote in the elections, and thus cannot decide who will make the up the next government that will decide their fate. However, some of them know very well who they would like to see in the Knesset.

“We hope that the Joint List succeeds, and that it will be the third largest party in the Knesset. It is simply wonderful that the Arab factions are running together,” Abdullah Abu Rahmah, a central organizer of Bil’in’s nonviolent protests, told +972. “I also hope that Meretz succeeds, despite the fact that they are losing their strength. I hope that the Palestinians on the ‘inside’ [Palestinian citizens of Israel, H.M.] go out and vote, because anyone who does not vote only strengthens the right.”

Abu Rahmah, who was recognized by the European Union as a Human Rights Defender, was recently levied a fine and a suspended sentence after being convicted last October of interfering with the work of a soldier for an incident in May 2012, when he stood in front of a bulldozer that was clearing land to build the separation barrier near Ramallah.

“Today there are over 600,000 settlers, and their influence on Israeli politics is only growing,” says Abu Rahmah, “The answer to this is the Joint List and Meretz, who I hope will get seven seats so that Gaby Lasky is elected.” Lasky is a human rights attorney who has worked on many cases pertaining to Palestinian and Israeli anti-occupation activists, including that of Abu Rahmah. “It is true that Lasky supports us as an attorney, but we need her in the Knesset alongside Dov Khenin.”

“It is necessary to have a large bloc of leftists and Arabs. And yet, if Labor wins… it won’t be so good. There is no real difference between Labor...

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Do Israelis have any idea how bad it is in Gaza?

Nearly two million Gazans are living in a state of poverty and shortages, with few options of leaving and even fewer options for work. Nearly two million people who live in a giant prison, and Israelis cannot even begin to fathom how terrible their situation is.

“I’m extremely concerned that if you leave Gaza in the state it’s currently in, you’ll have another eruption, and violence, and then we’re back in a further catastrophe, so we’ve got to stop that,” warned Quartet envoy Tony Blair during a visit to the Gaza Strip on Sunday. It was his first trip to the Gaza since the last war, and Blair spent his time meeting with ministers and surveying the progress – or lack thereof – toward rehabilitating the Strip.

The scope of destruction in Gaza remains enormous. According to the UN, over 96,000 homes were either damaged or destroyed by Israeli air strikes. The donor states that have pledged to transfer money have yet to do so, re-building is going nowhere, many are still seeking refuge in UNRWA schools and the winter storms have only increased the damage to the homes and neighborhoods that survived.

Read also: The casualties of the next Gaza war

The Israeli blockade, which prevents exports, economic development and importing building materials not previously approved by Israel, and which includes firing at fishermen, continues to choke the Strip. Furthermore, the Egyptian government has only tightened the blockade on its end over the past months. Egypt has destroyed all the tunnels into Sinai, keeps the Rafah crossing closed on a regular basis, and has destroyed large parts of Rafah in order to create buffer zone between the city and its Gaza counterpart. And all this after the Egyptian government banned Hamas’ military wing, calling it a “terrorist organization.”

Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, which killed over 2,000 people, including hundreds of children and entire families, lead not only to destruction, but also to a breakdown in Palestinian reconciliation. Fatah and Hamas continue to find reasons not to make reconciliation a reality: Fatah refuses to pay the salaries of Hamas members (partially because Israel has frozen the tax revenues it owes the Palestinian Authority), Hamas is blaming the situation in Gaza on the unity government and attacks on members of Fatah are becoming routine.

According to...

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Knesset candidates plant olive trees with Palestinian farmers

Palestinian activists build new protest camp near Jerusalem to protest displacement of West Bank Bedouin, settlement expansion; the Israeli army dismantles the camp.

Over 100 Israeli activists, among them four Knesset candidates in the upcoming elections, joined Palestinian farmers in from the West Bank village of Kfar Yassuf to plant olive saplings to mark the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat. The activists planted the trees near the Israeli settlement of Tapuach, an area where olive trees have been uprooted time and again, allegedly by settlers. Israeli soldiers prevented the farmers and activists from reaching the area in which they had planned to carry out the action.

The action was planned by the “Olive Harvest Coalition” and Rabbis for Human Rights. Also taking part were Hadash members MK Dov Khenin, head of the Arab Joint List Iman Odeh and Aida Touma-Suliman, as well as Meretz candidate and former MK Mosi Raz.

“We came to Kfar Yassuf because it suffers from a relatively large number of incidents of uprooting trees, and we wanted to bring a message of peace in response to the messages of hate, said Rabbi Kobi Weiss of Rabbis for Human Rights.

“Olive trees are the main source of income of the village, and they are a symbol of peace,” MK Khenin wrote on his Facebook page, adding that the tree planting was the first such action by Hadash list for the next Knessset. “With these seeds we planted more seeds of joint struggle, seeds of peace and a normal life, for a future of independence and justice for the two peoples in this land.”

Under the pretext of lack of coordination, Israeli soldiers refused to allow the activists and Palestinian farmers from entering the area designated for planting, according to a statement from Rabbis for Human Rights. The land is privately owned by the Palestinian villagers.

New protest camp against displacement of West Bank Bedouin

Palestinian activists have been struggling for a small peace of land outside of Jerusalem. Activists belonging to the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee showed up on the piece of land near Abu Dis on Tuesday and erected an encampment called the “Jerusalem Gate.”

The action follows a similar project two years ago, at “Bab a-Shams,” in which Palestinian activists reclaimed a plot of land near Mishor Adumim. Around 100 activists took part and dozens remained until the Israeli army cleared the...

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High Court: State can continue restricting Mordechai Vanunu's freedoms

Nearly 11 years after he was released from an 18-year prison sentence for leaking information on Israel’s top-secret nuclear program, Mordechai Vanunu is still prevented from doing just about anything an average citizen can. 

Three High Court justices ruled earlier this week that Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu will able allowed extremely limited contact with foreign nationals, despite allowing the Israeli government to continue and limit almost all of his freedoms.

Nearly a decade after his release from prison, where he sat for 18 years for leaking secrets about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, Vanunu is still unable to leave the country; enter the West Bank; approach border crossings, ports or airports; and is heavily restricted from communicating with foreign nationals. Vanunu is also required to obtain special permission from the Shin Bet in order to meet with a foreigner, which according to several sources is his partner.

Vanunu was employed as a radiation technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, which according to foreign sources is a facility used to develop and manufacture nuclear weapons. Vanunu was fired in 1985 due to his left-wing political activism. In 1986 he provided extensive details regarding the Negev facility to British Sunday Times reporter Peter Hounam, along with pictures he took without authorization. The Mossad later lured Vanunu to Rome where Israeli agents kidnapped and renditioned him back to Israel. He was convicted of treason and espionage, and sentenced to 18 years in prison – 11 of which were spent in solitary confinement.

Before submitting his previous appeal, Vanunu was completely forbidden from communicating with any foreign nationals. In the appeal, Attorney Michael Sfard claimed that these decade-long restrictions are akin to Vanunu’s social exclusion, since he claims that the vast majority of Israeli citizens do not want to communicate with him. Furthermore, Sfard stated that East Jerusalem (where Vanunu resides) is full of foreign nationals, and Vanunu cannot ascertain whether every person he meets is a citizen or not.

Sfard further claimed that 30 years after the end of Vanunu’s tenure at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, and since the time he passed on classified information to Hounam, his client poses no security threat.

However, in the wake of an appeal hearing in September, the state decided to slightly lessen the restrictions on Vanunu’s communication with foreign nationals:

Vanunu and Sfard claimed that this is a harsh measure that...

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Risking jobs, Palestinian workers in West Bank settlement unionize

When the Palestinian workers at a West Bank aluminum factory tried to unionize, the management responded with a resounding no.

Nearly half of the 65 workers at the MS Aluminum Ltd. factory, located in the Israeli-run Mishor Adumim industrial zone in the West Bank, unionized last week after joining the Workers Advice Center (WAC-MAAN). According to Israeli law, at least one-third of all workers in the factory must join the union in order to be considered their representative organization. WAC-MAAN told the factory management last week that they had passed the necessary threshold  - 31 workers – and are expecting to begin negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement.

The workers claim that the management imposes arbitrary fines, illegally deducts hours from their pay stubs, doesn’t properly compensate them for transportation and owes workers large sums of money in pension contributions. Some of the more skilled workers have been at the factory for many years, yet they claim that most make just above minimum wage, and are demanding a wage increase to match that of the most senior workers in the factory.

Attorney Yaron Eliran, who represents MS Aluminum’s management, rejected WAC-MAAN’s status as representative of the factory workers, adding that the workers will receive an official, detailed letter when the management returns from a trip abroad. The company told +972 that the issue is currently being dealt with legally, and that they have no intention of publicly discussing the matter.

MS Aluminum’s employees are not the first Palestinian workers in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone, located in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement, to unionize. Last year, WAC-MAAN organized workers at the Y. Tzarfati garage, protesting against their low wages and other problems in their employment. In response, the management fired the nascent union’s chairman, Hatem Abu Zeida. WAC-MAAN appealed the decision, and the case is currently being heard in the National Labor Court.

Palestinian workers employed in the settlements and industrial zones frequently suffer from poor working conditions. Furthermore, striking or unionizing runs the risk of having their work permits rescinded by the army.

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

How does SodaStream treat its Palestinian workers when the media isn’t looking?
The cynical use of Palestinian workers in the SodaStream controversy

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Report details IDF 'double tap' bombings that hit first responders in Gaza

Using human shields, attacking medical teams and hospitals, shooting at civilians waving white flags. A new report by Physicians for Human Rights authored by a team of international medical experts documents shocking testimonies of victims and presents new evidence from Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

The thing that shocked me most in a new report on Gaza by international experts was the IDF’s “double tap” attacks. Other findings in the report have already been written about, some of them during the war, “Operation Protective Edge,” here on +972. We reported about the shooting at civilians in the Khuza’a neighborhood, the use of human shields, destroying hospitals, how Gazans felt they had no safe place to run to, the dozens of families that were simply eliminated, and more. But the “double taps” — that is entirely new.

The team of medical experts that authored the report visited Gaza three times as a delegation of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). They collected testimonies from dozens of wounded and from medical teams, documented the army’s terrifying actions during the war. At least 15 people testified about and described incidents in which the army bombed a target, and then — after a short pause or immediately after — bombed it again. The result was especially deadly: family members, neighbors, passersby and/or medical and emergency teams that arrived to help the wounded and extract bodies from the rubble, were bombed themselves, were killed or wounded.

Read the full report here

“This is a separate phenomenon from that of the so- called ‘roof-tap[s],” explain the authors of the report, which in a separate section addresses the “roof tap” warning strikes — which are small bombs that aren’t supposed to fell buildings. The “double tap” is something else. For Israelis it is reminiscent of our own traumas, like the Beit Lid double suicide bombing and other terror attacks that used the same tactic. According to the team of experts, that is how the Israeli army operated in Gaza.

The Red Crescent described the “double tap” practice as one of the central factors behind the deaths and injuries of their medical teams. A total of 23 medical personnel, 16 of them on duty, were killed during the war; another 83 were wounded. According to the team of experts, 45 ambulances were damaged by army attacks, including an ambulance station, 17 hospitals and 56 clinics that...

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Israel's broken promises to curb administrative detention

In response to Palestinian hunger strikes, Israel has made — and subsequently broken — all sorts of promises, both in individual cases and regarding the practice of administrative detention itself.

Palestinian administrative detainee Khader Adnan announced last week that he would begin a week-long hunger strike to protest the renewal of his administrative detention. Adnan made headlines in 2012 when he went on a hunger strike over his administrative detention. He was released after his health greatly deteriorated. Adnan was arrested once again last July during the IDF’s “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” which came in the wake of the kidnapping of three Israeli yeshiva students. He has been in administrative detention ever since.

The army recently extended Adnan’s detention by six months, along with dozens of other detainees who were arrested in the beginning of July. The army claims that Adnan is the spokesperson for Islamic Jihad, but hasn’t provided any evidence to support that claim, nor has it charged him with a crime. Adnan was previously convicted of belonging to a terrorist organization, served his time, and was released.

Administrative detention: Months or years without due process

The administrative detention of another Palestinian man, Ayman Tabish, was also extended once again. Tabish’s hunger strike led to his hospitalization, at which point the state promised not to extend his detention if he ended his strike. (Administrative detention orders can be issued for no more than six months at a time, after which they must either be renewed, the detainee must released or charged with a crime.) The military court of appeals did not extend his detention, and ruled that the state must uphold its promise barring new, incriminating intelligence. Should new evidence come to light, the state would be able to extend his detention.

Tabish launched a hunger strike again in 2014 for a period of three months. Once more he was hospitalized while handcuffed to his hospital bed, and once more ended his strike in exchange for an additional promise: that his detention would not last be extended past January 2015. Two weeks ago, the state reneged on its promise and extended his detention for three months. His appeal will be heard on January 21. In response, the IDF Spokesperson stated that Tabish is a member of Islamic Jihad and that his detention is necessary for maintaining the security of the region. No evidence...

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The storm that only affects Jews

The Israeli media’s storm coverage is a constant reminder of the reality in the occupied territories: two peoples sharing the same land – but only one is worth talking about.

If you’ve been paying attention to the Israeli media over the past few days, you may have noticed its superb coverage of the damage caused by the recent storm. Newspapers, nightly news broadcasts and radio stations haven’t missed a beat - from roads being shut down due to ice, to the thousands of homes currently without electricity to students who are forced to stay home from school. Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Haifa, Gush Etzion, Yitzhar. The media has it covered. That is, unless you are a Palestinian in the occupied territories.

This isn’t the first time the coverage looks like this. During last year’s harsh storm, every media outlet reported on the storm’s effect on West Bank settlements. Everyone talked about the outposts that were stuck without electricity, and how the army helped save the residents there. No one asked what was happening in the nearby villages, which were also stuck with no electricity and are under the rule of the same army. No one thought that they, too, might need help.

This storm is no different. Not a single media outlet has reported on the fate of the Ka’abna family, who lived in a tent in the Jordan Valley until New Year’s Day, when the army came destroyed their tent in its attempts to ethnically cleanse the Valley. Today they are entirely homeless, living in freezing temperatures under nylons and stitched pieces of cloth donated by friends and the Red Cross. And that’s just one example.

The focus on the storm is an excellent example that reflects how the media perpetuates Israeli society’s split consciousness vis-a-vis the occupation. As opposed to other stories in the West Bank, the storm is not seen as “security issue,” but rather one related to citizenship, blue ID cards and elections that only Jews in the West Bank can participate in. This is one storm: the same clouds, the same rain, the same snow falling on the same ground, the same electricity lines, the same floods in the same low areas. And yet the media separates the populations that share this land on the basis of ethnicity and nationality.

I cannot forget how even the left-leaning Haaretz, which dedicated a short article on page...

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Desperation and hope in the eviction of Givat Amal

The first-hand story of eviction in one of Tel Aviv’s poorest neighborhoods. ‘They are trying to frighten us,’ someone said, and everyone crowded together and held each other even tighter. Then a sledgehammer punched a hole in the drywall. We didn’t expect them to enter that way, the way soldiers did in Jenin during Operation Protective Shield.

First there were the noises. “They’re coming!” and “Police!” Those who holed themselves up in the Hakak family home, where I was also waiting, raced to close and lock the steel security door. And then silence. “Don’t stand near the door,” warned one woman. Everyone moved back and pointed their cameras toward the entrance. The tense silence was broken by faraway explosions, which we knew were coming from the burning barricades around the neighborhood, which painted Givat Amal in orange in the pre-dawn hours.

Choking from the smell of smoke that lingered on our clothing after a sleepless night around a fire, we held our breath. And then, yelling, knocking, and more yelling. No one knew from where. “They are trying to frighten us,” someone said, and everyone crowded together and held each other or their cameras even tighter. Then a sledgehammer punched a hole in the drywall. It only took two more swings before the wall collapsed. We didn’t expect them to enter that way, the way soldiers did in Jenin during Operation Protective Shield. It was by luck that the sledgehammer didn’t hurt any of those who stood by the wall.

From there everything sped up. Armed riot police entered the room through what was once a wall; they searched all the rooms and gathered the family members, who refused to leave by choice. The police dragged them on the ground. “You won’t take me out of my own home!” yelled some of the women of the family. After removing the family members, police removed Meretz MK Ilan Gilon. Then came the photographers’ turn. And then the residents and activists who chained themselves to the wall.

The pushing, beatings and swearing continued outside. Two women collapsed just outside the house. Fires raged across the rest of the neighborhood; the scenes repeated themselves in every home. Police. Women collapsing on the floor, either from crying or from beatings. Activists being dragged away by police. Cameras. Someone attempted to call an ambulance to treat those who either collapsed or were injured. Police refused to...

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On heels of small victory, tragedy strikes in overcrowded checkpoint

Concessions in response to workers protest of overcrowding were short-lived, Palestinians say. A 38-year-old Palestinian laborer dies in Israel’s Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint in the West Bank.

A Palestinian man died at the Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint Wednesday, just a week after Palestinian laborers there staged a strike to protest overcrowding and poor treatment from guards.

Ahmad Samih Abdir, 38, from the Tulkarem area of the West Bank, collapsed inside a turnstile in the checkpoint, according to his brother. Medics at the checkpoint declared him dead shortly thereafter. Abdir didn’t have any medical problems, according to his brother, and he leaves behind a wife and five children.

A week ago, thousands of Palestinian laborers refused to pass through the checkpoint in protest of the conditions there. They demanded that more inspection checkpoints be staffed and that the guards, employed by private security contractor “White Snow,” treat them better.

When I spoke to the Palestinians who use the checkpoint last week, a day after their strike, they explained that people often faint, are injured and trampled there, sometimes resulting in death.

Read more on conditions at the Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint

The security company that runs the checkpoint on contract from the Defense Ministry responded to the strike by promising to improve conditions. Indeed, when we visited the following day, more inspection points were open.

The Palestinian laborers were satisfied with their achievements last week, but they all expressed that the improvements wouldn’t last long. According to a report from the Worker’s Hotline NGO and laborers with whom we spoke, overcrowding returned within a matter of days.

Between 6,000 and 9,000 people, all of whom have Israeli work permits, pass through the checkpoint every day in the pre-dawn hours in order to make it to their workplaces in the center of the country.

Abdir was one of those workers, waking up at 3 a.m each day in order to make it to his construction job in the center of Israel.

His body was taken by a Palestinian ambulance to the West Bank pathological center in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem. His funeral was expected to take place on Thursday.

Worker’s Hotline executive director Ala Khatib responded that, “Abdir’s death must be a red flag reminding policy makers of their obligation to protect the lives and security of tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers on their way to work in Israel each morning.”

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At West Bank checkpoint, a fleeting victory for Palestinian laborers

Thousands of Palestinian laborers refused to pass through a West Bank checkpoint in protest of overcrowding and bad treatment from Israeli guards. A day later, their demands were met at the privatized checkpoint, but many believe the improvements won’t last long.

The Palestinian laborers passing through the “Sha’ar Ephraim” checkpoint in the early morning are a strange sight by any standard. Those passing through before dawn mostly look stressed, busy, tired and retreated into themselves. “The hour or two spent inside the checkpoint are more difficult than an entire work day,” one of the workers told me Monday morning. But that wasn’t the case on Monday.

Following a strike that took place a day earlier, in which thousands of workers from the Tulkarm, Nablus and Jenin areas decided not to cross into Israel in protest of their treatment at the checkpoint, they walked around with smiles and a sense of victory showing on their faces. They said it was as if a magic wand had been waved; their treatment inside the checkpoint suddenly improved. Inspection points were suddenly operating efficiently, and the guards were treating the elderly and women with respect — exactly as they demanded in their strike the day before.

The workers crowded outside the checkpoint — who were waiting for their employers to pick them up or for vans to take them to Tel Aviv and central Israel — were calm and appeared satisfied. “This is all because of the strike,” said one man with whom I spoke. But nobody was rushing to celebrate: “Two weeks, a month, two months — everything will go back to the way it was. Until the next strike,” said A., a resident of Jenin. Others we spoke to expressed similar sentiments.

The Palestinian laborers probably know what they’re talking about. Four or five years ago they struck for a day and refused to return. Thousands of workers lost a day’s worth of low wages in central Israel because they refused to accept the daily humiliation they were forced to endure at the checkpoint. When I spoke with them at the time they thought the improvements would be more permanent. A few years later, the laborers feel that without a strike every once in a while the situation will deteriorate all over again. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only checkpoint at which laborers organized such a strike —...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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