Breaking News
Israeli settlers 'profit' from abuse of Palestinian child labour Open in fullscreen

Sheeffah Shiraz

Israeli settlers 'profit' from abuse of Palestinian child labour

File Photo: Israeli settlement farms subject children to dangerous working conditions [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 April, 2015

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Israeli farmers in the occupied West Bank are using Palestinian children as workers and placing them in danger, a human rights group has found.
Israeli settlement farmers in the West Bank are "profiting from rights abuses against Palestinian children" a human rights organisation has revealed.

A new report by Human Rights Watch has found that Israeli settlers are using Palestinian child labour to grow, harvest, and pack agricultural produce, much of it for export, including to Europe and the United States. 

The report documents children as young as 11 working on some settlement farms, often in high temperatures.

"Children from communities impoverished by Israel's discrimination and settlement policies are dropping out of school and taking on dangerous work because they feel they have no alternatives, while Israel turns a blind eye," said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Although labour laws in the country prohibit youth from carrying heavy loads, working in high temperatures, and working with hazardous pesticides, Israel has not applied these laws to protect Palestinian children working in its settlements and rarely inspect their working conditions.

The report found that the children are paid low wages and subjected to dangerous working conditions in violation of international standards.
Children are paid low wages and subjected to dangerous working conditions in violation of international standards
In addition to this, the human rights group said that children have to carry heavy loads, are exposed to hazardous pesticides, and in some cases have to pay themselves for medical treatment for work-related injuries or illness.

Palestinian poverty rates in the Jordan Valley are up to 33.5 percent, among the highest anywhere in the West Bank.

Israel has allocated 86 percent of the land in the Jordan Valley to settlements, and provides vastly greater access to water from the aquifer beneath the valley to the settlement agricultural industry than to the Palestinians living in the valley.

Official statistics are not available, but Israeli and Palestinian development and labour rights groups estimate that hundreds of children work in Israeli agricultural settlements year-round, and that their numbers increase during peak harvesting times.

Dangerous Child Labour on West Bank Farms (Human Rights Watch)
HRW interviewed 38 children who work on seven settlement farms in the Jordan Valley area, and majority said that they felt they had no alternative but to find work on settlement farms to help support their families.

"So what if you get an education, you'll wind up working for the settlements," one child said.

Many children who spoke to the group had suffered from severe health conditions including nausea and dizziness.

Some said they had passed out while working in summer temperatures that frequently exceed 40 degrees Celsius outdoors, and are even higher inside the greenhouses.

Other children said they had experienced vomiting, breathing difficulties, sore eyes, and skin rashes after spraying or being exposed to pesticides, including inside enclosed spaces.

Some complained of back pain after carrying heavy boxes filled with produce or "backpack" containers of pesticide.

However, Israeli military authorities have stated that they do not issue work permits for Palestinians under 18 to work in settlements.

But Palestinians do not need Israeli work permits to reach the settlement farms, which are outside the gated areas of settlements that Palestinians need permits to enter.

All of the children and adults working for the settlement farms and interviewed by HRW said they were hired by Palestinian middlemen working for Israeli settlers, were paid in cash, and did not receive pay-slips or have work contracts.

Human Rights Watch has called for Israel to "dismantle the settlements" and "prohibit settlers from employing children" in accordance with Israel's obligations under international treaties on children's rights and labour rights.

The group has also called on other countries and businesses to "uphold their own responsibilities" and not to "benefit from or contribute to the human rights abuses against Palestinians" in the West Bank by ending business relationships with settlements, including imports of settlement agricultural produce.

"The settlements are the source of daily abuses, including against children," Whitson stated.

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More