Testimony from an Israeli army Staff Sergeant on how Palestinians are being used as slave labour

For more testimonies from Israeli military see “Breaking the Silence” on  http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/

A checkpoint for Israel’s bank account

testimony catalog number: 101792
rank: Staff Sergeant
unit: Nahal Brigade
area: Jericho and the Jordan valley
period: 2006

We had a very tough time with this, morally speaking. This whole checkpoint was about Palestinians coming to work for Israelis in the Jordan Valley. It’s just loaded with Israeli exploitation of Palestinians. Loaded.

How do you see this at the checkpoint?
There’s the date harvest, the Palestinians are paid something like 50 shekels. ($12.73) or (£8.16)

Do you see this at the checkpoint?
Of course. I know how much they’re paid. They come every day at four in the morning or five o’clock, and go back at seven in the evening, exhausted. You see a guy exhausted from having worked hard all day, physically, and they receive 50 shekels a day. Great, I mean for date picking that’s what they get. That’s what the workers get. Now, I see this. Not only do they get 50 shekels for a day’s work, but on top of that I stand on them, they have to wait at my checkpoint and undergo that humiliating procedure of inspection. I mean, this whole checkpoint is in fact an economic checkpoint. You feel you’re on checkpoint duty not for the sake of Israeli security but for Israel’s bank account.

How is that related to the checkpoint?
Who goes through that checkpoint? Only Palestinians working in the Jordan Valley. They have nothing to look for there, just their livelihood. Nothing else. I mean, because of this livelihood there are families in between the areas, but originally the people from Akraba and the hill villages have nothing to look for in the Jordan Valley. These are two separate populations. Nowadays it’s already very connected, because when you work somewhere you get connected, and families come into being and stuff. But I am standing at that checkpoint so that Palestinians without work permits will not come through.

Why should I mind their not having work permits?
Officially, from a security point of view, because they were not cleared.

But what does that mean, not cleared? Do you know what prevents a person from getting a work permit?
Listen carefully: if a relative of the fourth degree, meaning your uncle’s grandfather, had once thrown a stone back in 1948, I’m not kidding you now, then you don’t get a work permit.

How do you know that?
I know that because we once asked a GSS agent about the criteria. We were told there is a very clear definition. If any family relation – fourth degree down – has ever been charged with an act of violence against Israel, no work permit will be issued. That’s one of the criteria. Now show me a person, I mean what’s the percentage of the population? Nothing. We’re at war with them for over fifty years now, clearly someone somewhere back on the family tree had thrown something sometime, you see? Now everything’s documented. So you get a 16-year old boy, all smiles, and the grandfather of the father of his brother is the guy who threw a Molotov cocktail in 1962. Now why would this guy bypass the checkpoint – to go on a terrorist attack? No. To get a day’s work done. So I’m his checkpoint for economic interests. Cool. Great. It’s shit. Beyond capitalism, socialism, never mind. Why do I as a soldier have to watch out for the bank accounts of the Jordan Valley settlers? No reason in the world. That’s corrupting occupation at its worst. Pure economic interests.  

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