Human Rights Crisis
Child Labor in Israeli Settlements
What is happening?
Thousands of Palestinian children in Area C of the West Bank are forced to work in Israel settlements in order to feed their families and escape extreme poverty
What is Area C and the West Bank?
The West Bank is the land east of Israel sectioned off for 2.6 million Palestinian people. Israel has controlled the land since 1967 as a result of the Six Day War, a conflict between several middle-eastern countries. An agreement made in the 1995 Oslo II Accords called for the gradual withdrawal of Israel from Palestine. It also split the area into three different sections- Area A, which in under complete control of the Palestinian Authority, Area B which is under both Israeli and Palestinian control, and Area C, under full control of the Israeli government.
What are Israeli settlements?
Israeli settlements are colonies in Palestine and are home to almost half a million Israeli settlers. Although they have been deemed illegal under international law, over 121 settlements still exist. The actual settlements only occupy about 3 percent of the West Bank. However, with road systems and restrictions on Palestinian access to the areas, the settlements control about 40 percent of the West Bank.
How do they impact the Palestinian people?
The Israel settlements put a great economic burden on the 300,000 Palestinians living in Area C. They take up large amounts of land that was once used by the Palestinians for farms and livestock. They also use four times more water than the Palestinians. The lack of resources hinders the ability to develop Palestinian communities and leads to poverty outside the settlements. To avoid extreme poverty for their families, many children quit school to find work in the settlements.
What is child labor?
The UN defines child labor as "work the child should not be doing because they are too young to work, or because it is dangerous or otherwise unsuitable for them". Child labor denies children the right to an education and a safe childhood. According to the ILO, (International Labor Organization) the minimum age of employment for hazardous work is 18. The minimum age to perform light work is 12, as long as it does not interfere with compulsory education or the child's safety. Despite international standards and laws set by the Israeli government itself, it is estimated that over 1,900 Palestinian children under 18 perform dangerous work in the Israeli settlements. Up to half of the children are under 16.
What conditions do the children work in?
Most of the children work six or seven days a week for seven to eight hours a day, but will work up to twelve hours during peak harvest. They are paid only ten shekels and hour, or about $2.63 USD, which is well below the minimum wage of 25 shekels/hour ($6.56). They receive no benefits, sick leave, or compensation for injuries. They are expected spray strong pesticides without safety equipment, resulting in dizziness, nausea, rashes, and eye irritations. Long term exposure is associated with reproductive problems and an increased risk of developing leukemia. Some children suffer from back pains from carrying 50 lb boxes hours at a time. They work outside in extreme heat with temperatures over 100 degree F, and over 120 in the greenhouses. As a result of their need for money for their families, the children are not receiving an education to better their situation in the future. They are only contributing to the growth of the settlements that will in turn further oppress the Palestinian people and drive them into deeper economic need.
What needs to happen to stop it?
In order to stop the exploitation of the Palestinian children in Israeli settlements, many things need to happen. First, labor laws in Area C need to be enforced. Israel set a series of laws in the 1990's that list a minimum age to work, minimum wage, restricted working in extreme temperatures, as well as prohibited performing dangerous jobs. However, these laws aren't enforced in the West Bank. The Israeli military rarely persecutes settlers, and the Israeli government refuses to accept the responsibility of regulating labor in the settlements. Israel must extend their labor laws to the Palestinians in the West Bank if the problem to be resolved. A ban on all child labor in the settlements and punishments for doing so must be established. Israel also needs to lift unfair and unlawful economic restrictions on the Palestinian communities. These restrictions contribute to Palestinian poverty which makes the children more vulnerable to be exploited. Ideally, Israel would remove control of the occupied territories and let the Palestinian Authority have full military and social control over the sovereign state. However, Israel has shown no intent of doing so for the past twenty years, and is backed in it's decision by the United States.
What can I do to help?
1. Educate yourself and the people around you! Below are links to helpful resources you can share with your friends and family
Human Rights Watch Report on Child Labor in the West Bank
3. Spread the word. Share this Tackk and the resources with family and friends!
Council for European Palestinian Relations. “Illegal Israeli Settlements.” CEPR. Council for European Palestinian Relations, 2011. Web. 16 May 2015.
Doha, Qatar. “Palestine denounces pro-settlement Netanyahu coalition.” Al Jazeera 7 May 2015:1. EBSCOhost. print.
El-Jazair, Lara, Smyth, Fiona, and El-Ansary, Marwa. “On the Brink.” Oxfam Briefing Paper. Oxfam International, 5 July 2012. Print. 7 May 2015.
Esveld, Bill Van. “Ripe for Abuse.” Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 13 April 2015. Web. 7 May 2015.
International Labor Organization. “Definition: What is meant by child labour?” International Labor Organization. The United Nations, 13 July 2011. Web. 17 May 2015.