Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

An economic program set up to help combat the radicalization of young Palestinians was canceled by Israel at the start of the war, and the effects are already being felt in West Bank.

War deprives Palestinians of their jobs Jerusalem | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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The Qalandia crossing forms the link between Ramallah , in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

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RAMALLAH, West Bank – Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been left jobless since the start of the war, due to the cancellation of their Israeli work permits. Security measure, says Israel. Unfair punishment, deplore the affected workers.

Mohammed's eyes are still sleepy from lack of sleep when he arrives at the Israeli army checkpoint in Qalandia, which separates Ramallah and East Jerusalem.

The reinforced concrete building, with its heavy metal fences and one-way gates, looms through the morning mist.

Every day, at dawn, thousands of Palestinians like Mohammed join a long queue to undergo security checks. A procedure that he already found humiliating, but which has become even worse in his eyes since the start of the war.

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Mohammed is one of those Palestinians who must use the Qalandia corridor and undergo security checks.

Middle East, the eternal conflict

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I have to go 5 minutes from here, but it takes me 90 minutes to get there every day, Mohammed complains. The bakery where he works is in East Jerusalem, in occupied territory, in the Israeli Atarot industrial complex.

I leave the house very early, the children are still asleep. I arrive in the evening, they are in bed. I no longer have a family life, it’s demoralizing and it affects me a lot.

A quote from Mohammed, Palestinian worker

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The Israeli army checkpoint at Qalandia separates Ramallah, in the West Bank, from East Jerusalem.

Yet Mohamed is one of the lucky workers. Despite the war, he still has a job in an Israeli company, since it is located in Palestinian territory. But for many of his fellow citizens, this is no longer the case.

More than 100,000 Palestinians in the West Bank have special permits to work on the Israeli side. Permits which were canceled the day after the Hamas attacks. Israel pleads a security issue. But the affected workers see it as an unfair punishment.

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Ahmed Dar-Khalil, who works in the construction field, saw his work permit canceled on October 8, the day after the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel.

Ahmed Dar-Khalil works in the construction field. He pours concrete in residential construction sites that include hundreds of houses in Jerusalem, to house the growing population.

He had worked for the same company for two years. Until his work permit was canceled on October 8.

My cousin, two of my friends and many people I know can no longer go to work on the Israeli side, laments Ahmed.

This is abuse. It is unfair. I am not responsible for the Hamas attacks. I am not participating in the war. All I want is to work.

A quote from Ahmed Dar-Khalil, unemployed Palestinian worker

Now he works at the local coffee shop for a fraction of his construction salary. Before, I contributed adequately to my family's income. Now, he says, I feel like I'm not useful, it's very frustrating.

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Abou Fadi, a trader from Ramallah, is forced to extend credit to several families who no longer have the money to pay him .

In the business next door, Abou Fadi is taking inventory. He has time, since his convenience store is much less busy than before the war.

People no longer have money, he says, because of the cancellation of work permits. They only buy basic foodstuffs, like rice or tomatoes, but nothing more.

People have loans at the bank, cars to pay for, says Abou Fadi. But without a salary from Israel, my clients are forced to reduce their spending.

The shopkeeper takes out a black notebook from under the counter, which includes a list of names, on the right, and amounts of money, on the left. This is his booklet for calculating his clients' debts. I am forced to extend credit to several families who no longer have the means to pay, he explains.

Look, here, this man already owes me 2000 shekels [CA$730]. I'm taking a risk, but I have no choice but to help him, otherwise he won't be able to feed his family.

A quote from Abou Fadi, trader

According to the International Monetary Fund, 13% of all Palestinian workers had jobs in Israel or a Jewish colony before the war. Canceling work permits results in a loss of more than $30 million a month in taxes, the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank estimates.

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Ahmed Dar-Khalil (left in photo) lives in the village of Ain Areek, near Ramallah, in the West Bank, with his mother, Oum Shadi, his brother and his niece.

Ahmed Dar-Khalil lives in the village of Ain Areek, very close to Ramallah. He shares a small, simply furnished apartment with his mother Oum Shadi, his brother and his niece.

We have enough money for the first 10 days of the month, Oum Shadi calculates. Afterwards, we have to borrow from our neighbors, or buy groceries on credit, if we want to survive at the end of the month.

But the concerns of this mother goes beyond monetary questions. According to her, young men who lose their jobs and have nothing left to do tend to get into trouble.

Maybe some will turn to drugs or theft. Or maybe they will say to themselves: I no longer have dignity, so why not join the resistance [Hamas] and fight for Palestine?

A quote from Oum Shadi, mother of a family

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As we leave our apartment, it's time for midday prayer. In an alley a stone's throw from the mosque, we can see graffiti that seems to illustrate a feeling of oppression: a person with his face hidden behind barbed wire, with the word “Palestine” on the far right.

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To the far right of this graffiti, which seems to illustrate a feeling of oppression, we can read the word “Palestine” .

With its ground invasion of Gaza, Israel aims to eliminate the threat that Hamas represents for it. But certain security measures taken by the Jewish state, such as the cancellation of Palestinian work permits, may give new arguments to Hamas recruiters.

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