Suffering There and Back: The Story of the Palestinians Who Build Illegal Settlements

22.02.11 – 15:42

Mustafa Sabri – Qalqiliya – PNN/Exclusive – Raed, an electrician, makes at least a 15 kilometer journey every day from his home city of Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank, to one of the 23 surrounding illegal Israeli settlements. One day, PNN accompanied him to witness his long hours.


An illegal Israeli settlement near Qalqiliya (PNN Archive).





In the morning, Palestinian workers gather outside the entrance to Karni Shomron settlement near Qalqiliya, waiting for a guard to open it. There is no guarantee that Israeli soldiers from the army post adjacent to the gate will not arrest or attack them.

Psychological Torment

Raed says he feels ashamed when he works inside the settlements, because a free man should never have to do it. But the poverty, need, and lack of other work in Palestine force him back.

“This psychological torment accompanies me every day,” says Raed, who would not give his last name. “It never leaves my mind. Sometimes we are driven out if there is no operator to accompany us, since we have no right to enter unaccompanied.”

“The trip to get my [work] permit was very difficult,” he recalls. “In the beginning you to get need a magnetic card that meant the secret police certified you had good behavior. It’s an important step to be able to enter any settlement.”

Forbidden Access

Raed and the others get to the entrance of Karmi Shomron, each one trying to gain the favor of the guard with his finger on the M-16. The guard yells that he wants total silence or they will all be forbidden from entering.

“You, as a reporter, cannot enter with us,” Raed tells us, “but you can see what’s going on here.”

He points. On the other side, the Israelis have shown up in cars, ready to supervise the Palestinian workers. There is one supervisor for each worker.

“Women in Islamic Shari’a need to be accompanied by a man called a muharram when they come and go,” says Raed. “And we men, under the watch of the occupation and the settlement authorities, cannot walk by ourselves inside the settlements. We need accompaniment, like the muharram for the woman.”

“This old car,” he says, pointing to it, “is the car of the supervisor who I work with. In a couple minutes he’ll call me over there.”

When he leaves work, Raed needs to go through an electronic scanner room for detailed inspection.

The Next Day

The next day, PNN turned to Raed to find out what had happened inside the settlement.

“After I entered the settlement in the Israeli supervisor’s car, we entered the worksite. We learned that we couldn’t leave under any circumstances, that there was an armed guard watching us during work hours, we couldn’t approach any settlers. It was like we were in prison. Our freedom was strictly controlled.”

“It reminds me of slavery in ages past,” says Raed. “[It’s like] what we read about in school, how we were working and what the situation was like.”

PNN – Palestine News Network – Suffering There and Back: The Story of the Palestinians Who Build Illegal Settlements.

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