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Israeli police detains 20 undocumented Palestinians workers in northern Israel

May 17, 2017 4:12 P.M. (Updated: May 17, 2017 5:25 P.M.)
An undocumented Palestinian worker is detained in Israel on May 16, 2017. (Credit: Israeli police)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police detained 20 Palestinians at a construction site in the northern Israeli city of Ibtin on Tuesday night for not having permits required to enter Israel, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a written statement.

She said that 11 of the Palestinians had been detained before for the same reason, and that it was decided to extend the detention of all 20 of them as Israeli police summon people suspected of employing the Palestinians.

Israeli police detained 27 undocumented Palestinian workers during a raid at a construction site in the city of Haifa in northern Israel on Monday night for not having permits.

Al-Samri elaborated on the incident in her statement on Wednesday, saying the 27 Palestinians "were hiding in wooden shacks near construction sites where they were employed. The suspects tried to escape from Israeli police, but police chased them and detained them."

As of Wednesday, the 27 were still being detained for interrogation.

"It should be remembered that there are dangerous consequences that affect public security when individuals enter Israel without legal permits. Punishments will be carried out against all involved individuals in hiring and helping suspects," al-Samri warned.

Palestinian residents of the West Bank are not allowed to access occupied East Jerusalem or Israel without an Israeli-issued permit, and many risk being shot and injured while trying to cross into Israel to work.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel due to crippling unemployment in the West Bank, as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to rights groups.

Israeli authorities have imposed a massive crackdown on undocumented workers in Israel in recent months, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming in March 2016 that “a large proportion of (Palestinian) attackers were present in Israel illegally or infiltrated into Israel illegally” since the beginning of a wave of violence in the fall of 2015.

However, few Palestinians attackers were in fact workers in Israel, and the recent crackdown on undocumented workers has been condemned by rights groups as a political game, unlikely to affect the violence yet economically harmful to both Palestinians and Israelis.
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