Torture, extortion, and an uncertain fate… A Palestinian fact sheet reveals the tragic conditions of Gaza workers within the Green Line since the outbreak of the aggression
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Torture, extortion, and an uncertain fate… A Palestinian fact sheet reveals the tragic conditions of Gaza workers within the Green Line since the outbreak of the aggression

Bisan Center for Research and Development, along with Freedom and Civil Rights Defense Center “Hurryyat,” both Palestinian organizations, revealed the tragic conditions experienced by Gazan workers within the Green Line since the beginning of the aggression on the sector last October.

The center, in a factsheet dated November 19, 2023, explained that the war on the sector coincided from day one with a campaign of widespread attacks and violations against Gazan workers operating within the Green Line, labeling them as “illegal workers.” This has caused them significant suffering, with no precise numbers or statistics available to date. They have also been subjected to extortion by Israeli employers and numerous serious violations by the occupation authorities, including torture and abuse, as well as being transferred to Gaza under fire without any protection guarantees.

According to the factsheet, large numbers of workers within the Green Line and the West Bank remain at risk, given the Palestinian Authority’s weakness in fulfilling its legal and social responsibilities towards them. The fate of thousands of workers is still shrouded in mystery, with some missing or still present within the Green Line unable to reach a safe place.

The factsheet included urgent appeals to responsible and concerned parties, calling for third-party signatories to the Geneva Conventions to take responsibility and pressure the occupation authorities to provide protection for Palestinian workers from Gaza still within the Green Line. It also urged the disclosure of the fate of the missing workers and ensured a safe return for them.

Furthermore, the appeals  included a call from the International Labour Organization for urgent action to provide all necessary essentials for decent living for workers who lost their jobs. It urged pressure on Israeli authorities to ensure their operational dues from their employers. The International Red Cross was also called upon to fulfill its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention, working to guarantee a safe return for workers to Gaza.

The center emphasized the necessity for the Palestinian Authority to provide suitable reception facilities for the workers, ensuring their basic needs for a decent life. It called for the provision of medical services, treatment, and essential relief until the end of the aggression on the sector. Workers were granted the right to determine their personal fate upon return, provided favorable conditions ensure their safety and protect their physical well-being and human dignity.

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights condemned the International Labour Organization’s neglect of data on criminal violations against Gaza sector workers in the occupied territories. It highlighted attacks, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of their belongings and wages by the occupation authorities.

The center criticized the organization for not seeking information on these workers to reveal their fate and investigate the assaults.

In a pervious statement, the Egyptian center stated that the statement issued by the organization’s director-general on October 27, 2023, raised doubts about its biases and commitment to its principles. It accused the organization of ignoring the disappearance of thousands of Gaza workers and failing to hold the responsible party accountable for the deaths of workers from international relief organizations, medical facilities, civil defense, journalism, and media. The center stressed the need for clear condemnation and an immediate investigation into these incidents, rejecting any equivalence between the victim and the aggressor.

The timing of the director-general’s statement, issued while thousands of Gaza workers were either trapped or detained in occupation prisons without acknowledging these crimes, was also criticized by the Egyptian center. Another statement from the organization on November 6, 2023, revealed a deliberate bias towards the occupation’s narrative regarding the massacre against Palestinians. It ignored condemning the occupation’s crimes against civilians, focusing on a loss of at least 61% of job opportunities, equivalent to 182 thousand jobs in Gaza, without holding the occupying entity responsible for this tragedy.

The organization’s statement indicated that the labor market situation in Gaza was extremely dire even before the current conflict. Gaza residents have long suffered from escalating poverty rates, vulnerability, and one of the highest unemployment rates globally, reaching 46.4% in the second quarter of 2023. Entire neighborhoods in Gaza have been destroyed since last October, with severe damage to infrastructure, business closures, widespread internal displacement, and economic activity paralyzed due to shortages of water, food, and fuel. The statement, however, overlooked addressing the direct role of the ongoing blockade and aggression on the sector in these crimes.

In a previous statement from the Egyptian Center, Adel Saba’neh, the media representative of the “Sharek” Youth Forum in Palestine and a volunteer assisting Gaza workers, stated that nearly 13,000 workers from Gaza had been present in the occupied territories since October 7. Some managed to leave directly for the West Bank due to the difficulty of returning to Gaza at that time, while others remain hidden internally, fearing persecution. A third group is detained by the occupation police.

Saba’neh explained to the “Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights” that Ramallah in the West Bank received more than 3,000 workers, in addition to others heading to neighboring Palestinian governorates and shelters. All of them showed signs of assault by occupation forces after being expelled and chased.

The Palestinian activist noted that the number of detained workers from Gaza in occupation prisons is estimated in the hundreds, with no information about their fate or the conditions of their detention. He pointed out that the released individuals so far do not exceed dozens, all in poor health conditions, having experienced torture and physical and psychological abuse. Hebrew media estimated the number of deported workers at 3,000.

The Egyptian Center urges officials in the International Labour Organization to review reports by UN special rapporteurs on crimes committed against Palestinian civilians, including workers in Gaza. It emphasizes that the content of these reports and others should not be dealt with solely on the basis of “raising concerns” but should be followed by effective interventions to stop these crimes

 

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