OVER 60 signatories comprising Palestinian human rights groups and non-governmental organisations have sent a joint open letter from Ramallah to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), urging it to take action to protect the rights, livelihoods, and dignity of Palestinian workers during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘During Covid-19,’ the letter goes on to point out, ‘the susceptibility of Palestinian workers to the pandemic has been compounded, with the Israeli occupying authorities continuing to prioritise economic considerations over the inherent rights and dignity of Palestinian workers.’
With the start of the outbreak, the Israeli occupying authorities allowed approximately 60,000 Palestinian workers employed in Israel temporarily to reside in Israel for a maximum period of two months during the emergency situation, with Israeli employers mandated to ensure adequate housing, proper sanitation, and food for workers.
‘Yet’, the letter added, ‘workers have faced dire housing conditions, forced to sleep at construction sites or in greenhouses, while Palestinian workers displaying symptoms of the flu have been removed from checkpoints without coordination that would ensure they would receive treatment.’
The letter continued: ‘Covid-19 has exposed the fragility of economies across the globe, with the pandemic having the potential in the longer-term to dramatically amplify cycles of poverty and inequality.
‘It is therefore more urgent than ever to address the prolonged denial of the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people as the root cause depriving Palestinians of an adequate standard of living, including the right to work.’
The signatories to the letter have also called on the ILO to send an urgent letter to the Israeli ministers of labour and health to urgently provide Palestinian workers with their three months’ wages during the emergency period, as per Israeli labour law.
They particularly called on the ILO to ask Israeli authorities to ‘take all necessary measures, including with employers, to guarantee healthcare coverage for Palestinian workers during and in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And they urged that the ILO assist in providing Palestinian workers staying in Israel with adequate housing, food, water, and sanitation, as is clearly essential to the upholding of their rights and to the mitigation of the effects of Covid-19 amongst workers and their families upon return.’
On the same day Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated the workers of Palestine on the advent of International Workers’ Day.
The President praised the struggle of the Palestinian workers, who he said have been part and parcel of the contemporary Palestinian revolution for independence and statehood.
‘Together with all our people, they (the workers) have contributed to the revival of our national identity, defending our national project of establishing our independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,’ said the President.
President Abbas also paid tribute to the resilience of Palestinian workers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has affected Palestine as well as the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, however, dozens of Palestinians were suffocated on Friday by tear gas fired at dawn by Israeli forces on the Tulkarem refugee camp, which is in the northern area of the West Bank.
A WAFA press correspondent reported that Israeli military vehicles had stormed the camp, where the soldiers opened fire towards civilian houses – causing dozens of those present, including children, to suffocate from tear gas inhalation.
All suffocation cases were treated at the scene, except in the case of one woman who was rushed to the Thabet Thabet Hospital, in Tulkarem, for treatment.
During the raid, soldiers ransacked the family house of a 19-year-old Palestinian, who was shot and detained after purportedly carrying out a stabbing attack in Kfar Saba town, northeast of Tel Aviv, in central Israel, last Tuesday.
Israeli forces frequently raid Palestinian houses almost on a daily basis across the West Bank on the pretext of searching for ‘wanted’ Palestinians, triggering clashes with residents.
These raids, which take place also in areas under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, are conducted with no need for a search warrant, and whenever or wherever the military chooses in keeping with its sweeping arbitrary powers.
According to Palestinian figures, roughly 5,700 Palestinians – including numerous women and children – are currently languishing in Israeli detention facilities.
- The US State Department’s intention to recognise Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank is ‘political rudeness’ rejected by the Palestinian people, Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanoa has said.
In a press release on Tuesday evening, Abdel al-Qanoa explained that the US step would not grant the Israeli occupation any legitimacy. Israel’s President Netanyahu’s insistence on annexing much of the occupied West Bank will ‘shut the door to the so-called compromise approach’, al-Qanoa emphasised.
The Hamas spokesperson stressed that the Palestinian people would never allow such plans targeting the Palestinian cause to pass. ‘All options are open for our people to defend their rights and foil all projects to Judaise their lands and holy sites,’ al-Qanoa continued.
To face off Israeli plans to extend sovereignty over the occupied West Bank, al-Qanoa called for embracing the option of resistance against the occupation, putting an end to security collaboration with the Israeli occupation and activating the decisions taken to revoke all agreements between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Israeli occupation, as well as withdrawing the PA’s recognition of Israeli occupation.
- A Palestinian parliamentary bloc affiliated to the Hamas resistance movement has also strongly condemned attempts by a number of Arab countries to normalise relations with the Israeli regime, arguing that such bids seek to kill the Palestinian cause.
The Change and Reform bloc, in a statement released on Thursday, denounced the ‘normalisation efforts by some Arab countries’ as ‘stabbing a poisonous dagger in the back of the Palestinian cause.
‘While the Zionist occupation is racing against time to implement US President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century at the expense of our historical rights and national fundamentals, some Arab parties are in a rush for normalisation with the Occupation, especially cultural ties, though the broadcast of suspicious TV series during the month of Ramadan,’ the statement added.
Hamas says that the presence of Israel in the Expo 2020 Dubai is a form of normalisation between the UAE and the Tel Aviv regime.
‘Such normalisation attempts are aimed at fostering a sense of apathy among Arab nations towards the Palestinian cause, and are aimed at altering their mentality, falsifying history and changing facts,’ it pointed out.
The remarks came in reaction to the airing of ‘Umm Haroun’, a new television series produced by the Dubai-based Saudi-owned Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), which has provoked a storm in the Arab world, with critics regarding the drama as an invitation to normalisation of ties with Israel.
The new series aired on the Saudi-owned MBC channel has generated controversy in the Arab world, with critics regarding the drama as an invitation to normalise ties with Israel. Hamas has denounced the TV series as a ‘political and cultural attempt to introduce the Zionist project to Persian Gulf society.
‘The character of Umm Haroun reminds me of (ex-Israeli prime minister) Golda Meir, the head of the Occupation, who was a murderous criminal.
‘This is the goal of normalisation: hatred, slow killing and internal destruction,’ senior Hamas official Ra’fat Murra commented.
At the same time a Saudi writer has called on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to ‘wipe Palestinians off the world’.
The new development came after – last Wednesday – Hamas official Fazea’ Sawafta denounced the recent ‘suspicious’ efforts by some Arab countries, groups and associations to normalise ties with the Israeli regime.
He argued that those parties, through attempts, are actually turning a blind eye to the immense sufferings of the Palestinian nation.
‘We cannot accept normalisation with an enemy that occupied and stole our land and lived there like cancer in the body of the Arab nation,’ Sawafta commented.