Sunday, July 7, 2013

Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Settlements

Al-Jazeera published an article today about Palestinian children working in Israeli settlements. Israeli settlements have been deemed illegal according to international law. In the Jordan Valley, there are approximately 60,000 Palestinians and 9,500 Israelis living in 37 settlements.

Between 10000 to 20,000 Palestinians work inside Jordan Valley settlements, which varies according to the season. Five to ten percent of these numbers are child workers. These children often forgo school in order to make money for their families, who are often in or on the brink of poverty. There is a high drop out rate in the Jordan Valley because of the weak educational system, lack of adequate infrastructure, and Israeli restrictions on building new schools for Palestinians. According to a 2012 report from the Ma'an Development Centre, during the 2011/2012 school year, there were 10,000 children living in this area who started the school year in tents, caravans, or tin shacks. The report also notes that nearly one-third of schools here lack adequate water and sanitation facilities.

Children have been employed by settlers to clean, lift boxes, pick and package vegetables and fruit, working in extreme heat (up to 50-degrees Celcius) for eight to nine hour shifts. They earn approximately 50-90NIS ($14-$25) per shift, which is about 25-50 percent what they are entitled to under Israeli labor laws.

The short article is worth reading, as it touches upon the tough decisions children make in deciding to work in this context, including the push and pull factors hat influence their decisions.

[Photo: Ma'an Development Centre / Al Jazeera]

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