Call for Action by the Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions
Israeli settlers torture and beat to death a Palestinian worker in his place of work in the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo. The body of Abdulfatah Obayat was found in a building in Gilo last Wednesday, Dec. 16th, 2020. The Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions consider this brutal murder one of the starkest forms of brutality Palestinian workers in Israeli business are subject to. We call on the International Labor Organization, International Trade Union Confederation and trade unions to hold Israel and its corporations accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian workers.
Abdulfatah Obayat, a 37-year-old father from Bethlehem was found dead in a building in the illegal settlement of Gilo on Wednesday. Before murdering him, Obayat was severely tortured by fanatic Israeli settlers.
Upon receiving the news of Obayat’s murder, his family released a statement asserting:
“Abdulfatah was martyred after he was brutally attacked by a group of settlers while he was working in the settlement of Gilo. Abdulfatah’s body was found in a building there with signs of beating on his body and a rope wrapped around his neck. Abdulfatah was earning a living when settlers killed him.“
Mohammed al-Blaidi, the Secretary General of the Palestine New Federation of Trade Unions commented on the inhumane murder of Obayat stating:
“The murder of Obayat comes as part of the systematic and structural discrimination against the Palestinian workers in Israeli corporations. Our workers are regularly subject to violent acts of beating and murder either by the Israeli occupation forces or the Israeli settlers. The ill-treatment of Palestinian workers by Israeli employers is another form of brutality against them, especially when no protection is given to them in dire and dangerous working conditions. Since the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Israeli employers arbitrarily fired thousands of Palestinian workers while totally denying their rights. Sadly, there is no real and concrete support to our workers’ rights amid these grave violations of their human rights; we call on trade unions across the world to hold Israel accountable for that by boycotting and sanctioning it.“
Israeli settlers and occupation forces usually torture and murder Palestinians with total impunity. The apartheid regime of Israel subjugating Palestinians with its discriminatory legal system does not criminalize the crimes committed by settlers and soldiers against Palestinian workers. Amid this apartheid and colonial situation, holding Israel accountable for its constant infringement of our workers’ rights in Israeli corporations is the obligation of organizations advocating workers’ rights across the World.
We urge the International Labor Organization, International Trade Union Confederation and trade unions around the world to hold Israel accountable by joining the Palestinian-lead boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and mounting effective and urgent pressure on their governments to:
(1) recognize Israel as an apartheid state according to the UN definition of the Apartheid Convention (1973) and call for the reactivation of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid.
(2) ban Israeli settlements goods and services and stop any business with Israeli and international companies operating in and profiting from Israeli settlements.
(3) ensure the United Nations Database of Businesses engaged in activities related to Israeli settlements released on 12 Feb. 2020 will be annually and transparently updated and published.
Israel’s three-tiered system of oppression: apartheid, settler colonialism and occupation is an economic enterprise that has been growing through the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers. Obayat’s and many others’ decision to work in Israeli settlements is hardly the result of a free choice. The strangling Palestinian economy and the Israel policies that undermine any development of a Palestinian economy create the high unemployment and poverty rates that force workers like Obayat to seek work in the settlements.
Dispossessing Palestinians of key economic resources; primarily their land and water resources is a major reason for pushing them to seek work in Israeli settlements. Without land and water no Palestinian economic development is possible, neither today nor in the future.
To earn a living for himself and his family, Obayat had to work in the settlement of Gilo built on lands stolen from his people. Gilo, built on the lands of Beit Jala, Beit Safafa and al Sharafat is located in south-western East Jerusalem. Established in 1971 and currently inhabited by around 30 000 illegal settlers, Gilo plays a role in the isolation and ghettoization of Jerusalem by cutting it off from Bethlehem, Hebron and the rest of Occupied West Bank. The settlement was built mainly over a quarry, from which stones came that Palestinians used to build many Bethlehem and Jerusalem structures. It represented a main source of income for the Palestinian inhabitants of the area. The settlement of Gilo has severely restricted the agricultural activities of the villagers of Al Walajeh, too. As with all of the settlements in this area, Gilo has also restricted Palestinians’ access to natural resources, mainly water.
Amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel is taking advantage of the moment to keep its economy going through the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers, reducing them to inhumane and troublesome working conditions. The systematic exploitation and ill-treatment of Palestinian workers before and after the spread of the pandemic is a key element of Israel’s apartheid and colonial practices allowing them to survive and thrive.