Changes at Mishor Adumim Checkpoint pressure Palestinian workers

<p>The hours-long delay leads to friction between the security staff and Palestinian workers trying to reach their jobs. The workers are sanctioned with pay cuts and fines for arriving late to their shifts.</p>

The security company that controls the entrance to Mishor Adumim, an Israeli industrial park in the occupied West Bank, has intensified security checks, yet without providing additional personnel. The hours-long delay leads to friction between the security staff and Palestinian workers trying to reach their jobs. The workers are sanctioned with pay cuts and fines for arriving late to their shifts.

By Michal Shwartz – WAC MAAN spokesperson   

מחסום מישור אדומים

photo by WAC-MAAN, free of copyright.

Since December 5, 2014, the day after a knife attack by a Palestinian youngster at the Rami Levi Supermarket in Mishor Adumim, procedures have changed at the entry checkpoint to this West Bank industrial park. The incoming Palestinian workers are required to step out of their vehicles, and every worker is subjected to a thorough body search. The same holds for the hundreds of Soda Stream workers, who arrive in company shuttles: they are required to step out of the buses and undergo inspection.

There are about 7000 Palestinian workers currently employed within the area of Mishor Adumim Industrial Park. As reported by some of them to the Workers Advice Center (WAC-MAAN), the security company’s procedural changes have not been accompanied by an equivalent increase in staff, which consists of four guards only.

As a result – Each morning a huge traffic jam forms at the entrance to the park, making the thousands of Palestinians late for work. This leads to conflicts with the security guards and heightens the tensions between the workers and their employers.

On December 15, at about 6.30 am, about 2000 workers who were waiting in line blocked the entrance to the park in a spontaneous protest against this condition. The response was to send more security forces to contain the protest.

The workers at one of the factories told the Independent Trade Union Centre WAC-MAAN about warnings from their employers that lost time because of lateness will cost them deductions from their pay. Others have reported that as punishment for lateness, their employers have refused to give them the usual holiday allowances. The workers are bitter at having to pay for the damages caused by the security procedure. They are producing video clips that document the increasingly unbearable scene at the checkpoint.

The checkpoint is not staffed by the Israeli army but by a private security company; it is sponsored by the Maale Adumim Economic Company, which belongs to the settlement’s Municipality. The security company demonstrates little or no interest in the consequences of the intensified procedures. Workers told WAC-MAAN that on January 1 the Israeli police arrived at the scene and criticized the security guards, demanding that they enable faster entry. As long as the police were present this was upheld, but as soon as they left the guards reverted to their slow patterns.

It should be noted that in order to receive a work permit, Palestinians must prove that they have no criminal record, particularly none relating to national security; then and only then, as a second step, they must find an employer who will ask the Israeli Military Authorities to allow them to work in the Industrial Park. Only when these conditions are met are they given a permit.

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About Michal Schwarz