A Day In the Life of a Palestinian Worker in Israel

Every day, thousands of Palestinians workers cross into Israel through various crossings. This report looks into the new entry method being used to speed up the crossing, which has been recently implemented at the Qalandia crossing.

 

Around 70,000 Palestinians cross into Israel every day through different crossings throughout Judea and Samaria in order to work in Israel in various fields such as construction, industry, agriculture and trade. Many Palestinian workers leave early in the morning to the crossings, go through security checks, which can take time due to the number of workers and other factors, and then continue to their workplace. In order to improve and ease the crossing process the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria has begun, in the past few months, to implement a new method at the Qalandia crossing for rapid security inspections using fingerprint scanners and tablets. This initiative was started by the officers of the Jerusalem Periphery District Coordination and Liaison and officers from the Civil Administration at Qalandia crossing are supervising the new method. Palestinian workers who have tried out this new system have expressed their satisfaction and its significant reduction of time in their commute.

In order to see this new method up-close, we, along with the commander of the Qalandia Crossing from the Civil Administration, escorted Palestinians who work at the factory of “Jerusalem Chicken”. Hundreds of workers arrive every morning by buses, which pick them up from their homes in the area of Ramallah, and bring them to Qalandia Crossing. We saw at the crossing how the workers pass through the crossing efficiently using the new method, and from there go directly to the factory, which is located in the Atarot industrial zone. Afterwards, we visited the factory and spoke to the workers and the owners.  

The Qalandia crossing is one of the most important in Judea and Samaria. Around 2,600 Palestinians cross through Qalandia in order to work in Israel every day. The Atarot industrial zone is particularly significant as well, the various factories employ around 2,350 Palestinian workers, who enter Israel through various crossings. The “Jerusalem Chicken” factory, whose business is supplying Israelis with meat and chicken, and specifically to Haredi Jews, is co-owned by Jews and Arabs. The factory employs about 1,200 workers, both Arabs and Jews from different backgrounds, 680 of whom are Palestinians who have work permits in Israel. Using the new entry method, instead of waiting on lines at the crossing, Palestinian workers at the factory arrive by bus to the Qalandia crossing. Usually within eight minutes, the workers get off the bus, scan their fingerprints and return to the bus which takes them directly to the factory.

Ibrahim Diab, one of the owners of “Jerusalem Chicken”, said that workers of the factory, Arabs and Jews from different backgrounds, work well together and respect one another. He added that the Civil Administration made it easier for Palestinian workers to get to their jobs by using the new entry method to improve security checks and shorten lines. One of the factory’s Palestinian employees, Khalil, said that the new method is better than the previous one and that the shortened times has led to a positive change.