Hundreds of Palestinian Laborers Discover Their Permits to Work in Israel Have Been Revoked

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Israeli border policeman checks ID's and work permits of Palestinian workers, as they head back home to the West bank at the exit of the costal city of Ashkelon, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. Credit: AP

Hundreds of Palestinian laborers who had been working in Israel complained this week that their permits allowing them to work in Israel had been revoked without their knowledge. The Shin Bet security service said the revocations were the result of a reassessment of the holders of work permits to head off the threat of terrorism from Palestinians working inside Israel proper.

On the other hand, in February the security cabinet approved a plan to boost the number of Palestinian permitted to work in Israel by 30,000, with the support of defense officials.

When it comes to Palestinians whose work permits have just been revoked, the Palestinians said they only discovered the revocation at border checkpoints where they were informed that they appeared on a list of individuals barred from entering Israel.

The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, which issues the work permits, did not deny the change, but referred the matter to the Shin Bet for a response. "Against the backdrop of the security situation in recent months, a reassessment was made of the criteria for granting entry permits from Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] to Israel, with the goal of making it more difficult for terrorists to enter Israeli territory," the Shin Bet replied. "Following this assessment, it cannot be excluded that Palestinians who in the past had received permits to enter Israel were recently turned down when they sought to enter Israel for work purposes."

Since the beginning of a wave of violence in October, involving stabbing attacks and other terrorist incidents directed against Israelis in the West Bank and Jerusalem at times elsewhere in  Israel proper, a large number of work permits of those in some way connected to these attacks have been confiscated or revoked. This includes relatives of terrorists and sometimes clan members and even the residents of entire villages.

Sylvia Peterman of Machsom Watch, an Israeli organization that opposes the occupation of the West Bank and impediments to the Palestinians' freedom of movement, told Haaretz that the work permit revocations began after the wave of terrorism in the West Bank and Jerusalem began but intensified over the past week, and claimed that their numbers were in the thousands. "Thousands of laborers who have come to the checkpoints have been surprised to be denied entry or the have their permits revoked without any explanation and without being informed that there is a problem with the permits in their possession," she said. "Most have returned home and have been left without work."

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