A Palestinian construction worker has a heart attack while at work. His employer, an Israeli contractor, together with another person, carry the laborer to the street, throw him on the sidewalk, leave him to his fate and hurry away. That, according to testimony, is how Ahsan Abu-Srur, 57, a father of six from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, met his death.
Testimony from the scene raises serious questions not only about the contractor but also about the conduct of the police. The police officer who arrived on the scene was said to have sent away anyone who tried to report to him that the man had been left to die. He did not take evidence, did not take the particulars of eye witnesses, and only told them to get out of his way.
The day after the incident was reported, Abu-Srur’s brother said that the deceased had worked in Israel for the past 20 years to support his family. Some of the time, the brother said, Abu-Srur had had a work permit, but it had run out, which led him to sneak into Israel, hide in various places and go back home once every two or three weeks. Abu-Srur is only one of thousands of Palestinians who have no other way of making a living except to sneak into Israel to work there illegally.
This case brings to an extreme the shameful attitude, both that of Israeli citizens and the authorities, toward people seeking a livelihood. It brings to mind the case of the illegal resident Omar Abu-Jabarin, who was thrown to his death on a main road from a police vehicle in June 2008. Both incidents expose the disregard in Israel for the lives and deaths of illegal residents. This attitude fails to meet any legal or moral standard, and puts to shame a democratic society and state that seeks to maintain human rights.
After the report in Haaretz, the Tel Aviv district police said they would launch an investigation into the affair. Considering the magnitude of the accusations, the police must give this probe high priority. The police investigations department in the Justice Ministry should also scrutinize the conduct of the police officer at the scene, if only to quash the message that could be conveyed that the Israel Police tend to treat victims differently depending on their ethnic origin or race.