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Negev farm closed in crackdown on illegal Palestinian workers

March 31, 2016 8:51 P.M. (Updated: April 2, 2016 1:40 P.M.)
AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli police on Thursday shut down a poultry factory in the Bedouin town of Shaqib al-Salam in the southern Israeli region of Negev after the factory was raided Monday for employing Palestinians from the West Bank who were working there without permits.

Israeli police had raided the factory on Monday to find 800 workers on the grounds including minors, and detained 41 Palestinian workers without permits, Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said.

One of the workers told Ma'an at the time that around 100 Israeli police officers stormed Oof Ooz slaughterhouse and rounded up more than Palestinian 100 workers and transported them to the West Bank.

Police on Thursday then detained five factory managers and transferred them for investigation, al-Samri said. Investigations revealed that some of the Palestinian workers lived in the area, while others resided in the occupied West Bank and had entered Israel illegally.

Al-Samri said the closure of the farm was based on the Israeli Law No. 26, sponsored by the Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to combat the supposed phenomenon of illegal Palestinian workers committing attacks inside Israel.

The new Israeli law gives the Israeli police permission to close factories violating the law for 30 days, though the factory in Shaqib al-Salam would only be closed for seven days due to the “difficult living conditions for the workers in the factory,” said al-Samri.

She added that the owners of the factory were ordered to employ new workers with legal permits.

The current crackdown on illegal workers began earlier this month after a deadly stabbing attack was carried out in the coastal city of Jaffa by a West Bank resident who crossed the border illegally into Israel.

There was no evidence that the Palestinian was working in Israel at the time of the attack, and Israeli daily Haaretz reported last month that since a wave of attacks against Israelis began in October, only two had been carried out by Palestinians working in Israel -- both of whom had permits.

Following the attack, Erdan ordered the police with “clear and strict directions to expel anyone who is illegally in Israel,” in addition to continuing to fight "terrorism" everywhere and making those involved in "terrorism pay an expensive price without exceptions.”

The Bank of Israel reported in March that the number of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank working in Israel -- legally and illegally -- doubled in the past four years.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled in the West Bank under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem. 

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