They have to bribe 20 shekels to pass an Israeli checkpoint.
Tens of Palestinian workers, males and females, gathered in Bait Iksa before early meal. Like run after time, Tuesday last week, they started to walk through a 7 kilometer long path prior to dawn. They are undocumented workers that daily to infiltrate Israel.
Bait Iksa is an Arab village in the West Bank located among foothills and surrounded by Jewish settlements. The village is not passed by the Separation Wall, a 750 kilometers long project that was built since seven years ago. The apartheid wall in order to avoid Palestinian strikes against Israelis.
Thus, Bait Iksa has become a favored place for illegal workers from every corner of the West Bank want to enter Israel. “They all come here because this is the only place without a wall around it,” said an undocumented worker called Abu Umar, who declined to give his real name.
According to Palestinian Workers’ Union, between 35,000 and 40,000 undocumented workers enter Israel illegally. Israel only give work permit for around 12,000 Palestinians annually.
As illegal workers, it is not easy for them to come into Israel. A worker who declined to say his identity said sometimes he can reach Jerusalem and stayed there for a week. Sometimes for several weeks he doesn’t get in at all.
Every time they try to enter Israel they have to face dangerous situation. “If one of those soldiers is a bad guy, he might shoot you while you’re going through the mountains. No one can do anything about it, that’s it,” said Abu Umar.
Though, Palestinian laborers don’t want to give up. Most of them have worked inside Israel for 15 to 20 years. Obviously they don’t want to lose their jobs. Above all, they can earn more money than work in their own land.
AS a comparison, workers who get into Israel on a regular basis can receive about 2,000 to 5,000 shekels (US$ 800 to 1,330). If work in Ramallah, West Bank, their monthly wages just 1,400 shekels. “When I come home and I have enough money to take care of my kids, any feeling of guilt disappears. I forget the exhaustion,” said a female worker.
Unfortunately, Israeli military have known about the Bait Iksa route. They have installed a checkpoint. To pass security checking every Palestinian labor has to pay 20 shekels. If found, the worker smugglers face heavy fines of up to 10,000 shekels and a six months jail sentence.
Though illegal in the Israeli view, Palestinian illegal workers will continue to seek livelihood in their enemy country. Prison, beating, or shooting are not restraint.
Jordan Times/Washington Post/Faisal Assegaf