FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Israeli Civil Administration has threatened to deny workers in West Bank villages permits to work in Israel if their demonstrations against the occupation continue. Workers in Bil’in, Beit Sira, Beit Likya, and Harbata have received threats, but the villages have continued their demonstrations regardless
Last week a member of the Civil Administration calling himself “Samir”, phoned Mahmud Samara Abu Ala, a 60 year-old merchant from Bil’in, and told him “not to bother” trying to renew his work permit. Mahmud asked if the Civil Administration was systematically denying permits to people in the village and Samir replied that they would continue to deny permits as long as the demonstrations continue.
Before the Friday, April 8th demonstration in Beit Sira, a member of the Civil Administration called the head of the village council, Ali Hassan Mahmud Abu Safeya, in to tell him that the Administration would stop giving permission to villagers to work in Israel. Thirty families are at least partially supported by locals who work in Israel.
This threat of systematic denial is consistent with the army’s practice of collective punishment. Israel, as an occupying power, is subject to the Geneva Convention, which states that collective punishments are a war crime. Article 33 of the Fourth Convention states that “collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.” By threatening the villages with the denial of work permits, Israel is attempting to intimidate the villages into stopping the demonstrations.
According to Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, the overriding goal of such permit denials is to phase out Palestinian workers from Israel. “The goal is to stop Palestinians from working in Israel by 2008” he said on March 10th 2006.
As Palestinians are increasingly being denied work permits, Israel is continuing to make it harder for a Palestinian state to be economically viable. The apartheid wall is annexing Palestinian land from farmers, making it impossible for some to access their land. Recently, Israeli banks have cut ties with Palestinian banks in a further attempt to harm the Palestinian economy.
Each month since the elections, Israel refuses to give back $50 million of Palestinian tax funds they withhold. International governments have also been cutting off funds to the Hamas led Palestinian government in what Prime Minster Ismail Haniyeh is calling “blackmail”.