Nabil Ghanem – victim of obtuseness and the cruel permits regime

Nabil Ghanem, an unarmed 53-year-old Palestinian, was shot dead on 19th June by soldiers near the separation fence in the Qalqiliya region as he went to work. Ghanem has been […]

Nabil Ghanem, an unarmed 53-year-old Palestinian, was shot dead on 19th June by soldiers near the separation fence in the Qalqiliya region as he went to work. Ghanem has been coming to work in Israel from his village near Nablus for the past 35 years. Because he was involved in the first intifada in the 1980s, he was forbidden from entering Israel and was therefore compelled to enter to seek work via breaches in the fence and not through the checkpoints.

Nabil Ghanem was one of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been employed in Israel since 1967. The security forces know very well that he represented no security threat. Even if he broke the law in his efforts to get over the fence, this is no justification for killing him. The army’s official report of the incident holds that Nabil was shot while he tried to cut the separation fence.

Moreover, the army retained his body for days, an affront to his dignity and a humiliation for his family, reflecting the arbitrariness, obtuseness and cruelty of the authorities.

The current government, like its predecessors, refuses to make any progress in reaching a settlement with the Palestinians. Its policies are based on narrow security considerations which mark every Palestinian as an enemy. Even when it ostensibly eases restrictions in the name of “economic peace”, the justification for every step is security needs. Instead of seeing Palestinians as partners for building a life of dignity, they are viewed through the sights of a gun.

The arbitrary permits regime makes Palestinians hostages to their employers, who exploit their weakened position and deny them their rights. It also makes them subject to the criminal illegal trade in permits, forcing them to pay thousands of shekels to obtain one. Now they have to contend with live ammunition too, as they seek a way of earning a living.

Nabil Ghanem’s murder exposes the true face of “economic peace”. The racist populist sentiment in Israel longs to see Palestinian blood; the authorities loose the leashes of the police and soldiers, allowing them to kill innocent people with no fear of real prosecution, never mind punishment.

MAAN Workers Association offers an alternative path. We call for an end to the abuse of workers, and demand they be given a “green card”[1] that would grant them freedom of movement to choose their employer as they see fit, without fear of being denied entry and the loss of livelihood that this entails.

Translation: Yonatan Preminger


[1] A joint Position Paper by MAAN and LEAP calling to implement Green Card for Palestinian workers as an alternative to the current corrupt and dysfunctional permit regime, was published Jan. 2022 see here http://eng.wac-maan.org.il/?p=2625

אודות Wac-Maan