Palestinians crossing checkpoints are not allowed to bring food or drink | Machsomwatch
אורנית, מהצד הזה של הגדר

Palestinians crossing checkpoints are not allowed to bring food or drink

Palestinians crossing checkpoints are not allowed to bring food or drink

source: 
www.luisamorgantini.net
author: 
Luisa Morgantini, Vice-President of the European Parliament

 
Machsom Watch, an Israeli women's organization against the occupation and for human rights which is monitoring checkpoints, denounced this policy which has been confirmed by Palestinian workers.
 
The checkpoint is called Sha'ar Efraim, south of Tulkarem, and is managed for the Defense Ministry by the private security company Modi'in Ezrahi. Here, all those Palestinians who work in Israel are prevented from passing through the checkpoint because they bring home-made food, coffee, tea and a spice called zaatar but also bottles of frozen water or soft drinks, all of which they need to eat and drink at lunchtime during their working day. Buying food and drinks in Israeli stores would be far too expensive for them because they are paid such low wages.
The situation is absurd but it is the reality. The Israeli security company, in fact,  dictates the quantity of items allowed to pass through the checkpoint: five pitas, one container of hummus and canned tuna, one small bottle or can of drink, one or two slices of cheese, a few spoonfuls of sugar, and 5 to 10 olives. Cooking utensils and work tools are also forbidden. Any food exceeding these amounts are confiscated and workers are held waiting for hours.
However the quantities of food and drinks admitted by Modi'in Ezrahi are not enough for the daily dietary needs of these workers.
These people, men and women, leave their homes in the occupied West Bank as early as 2 am in order to be on time and to wait at the checkpoint for another two hours or more: lateness at work would result in their immediate dismissal. So their working day also includes all those difficulties and humiliations to which  all Palestinians are subjected because of the Israeli military occupation. It is like an endless hell.
Machsom Watch reported the case of a 32-year-old construction worker from Tulkarem, who is employed in Hadera, in Israel, whose lunch bag was confiscated at the checkpoint: six pitas, 2 cans of cream cheese, one kilogram of sugar in a plastic bag, and a salad.
Machsom Watch also asked for information from the Israel Defense Forces about these new bans but got no answers, while a security guard declared that food restrictions were imposed due to "security and health risks", even if at other checkpoints workers can bring all the food items banned at Sha'ar Efraim.
A statement released by the IDF reports: "There are no limits on food quantities. They may take through the food necessary for their personal consumption during a day's work. When a worker arrives with a large quantity of goods intended for sale rather than for personal use, he is asked to pass through the goods crossing instead, where the goods are handled appropriately and with the appropriate customs checks. This crossing is intended for pedestrians and not for goods."
But the Palestinians in question do not bring food exceeding the quantities allowed in order to sell it. On the contrary,  they need to consume it during the entire week: for many of them, in fact, it’s impossible to wake up every morning at 2 a.m. in order to go to work, so they decide to spend the night in Israel running the risk of being arrested at all times since their permit is issued on daily basis and every evening they are supposed to go back to their villages at 7 p.m. So they decide to stay in Israel sometimes, with the complicity of their employers –Israelis- who prefer them to be  “fresh and ready for use”; they sleep in makeshift accommodation in construction sites, cubby holes, empty buildings or at bus stations, in precarious and insecure conditions, the same conditions in which we see immigrants without documents or homes in our cities.          
However, there is no plausible reason for such absurd restrictions. Although, on the one hand they appear ridiculous, on the other, on the contrary they represent a further violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, who too often and for too long have been submitted to humiliations and abuses at the mercy of the arrogance and illegality of the Israeli occupation, of the wall, of the settlements’ expansion. For many years Gaza has been compelled to suffer hunger because of the siege and now with these episodes also in the West Bank they want to control the quantity of food that every person can eat. This is only the latest abuse of power. Up until which point can we permit to the Israeli Authorities to carry out similar policies that are not only illegal but that aim to destroy the complete identity and dignity of the Palestinian people?     
 
Info: Luisa Morgantini, +39 348 39 21 465; +39 06 69 95 02 17
luisa.morgantini@europarl.europa.eu; www.luisamorgantini.net