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Israeli settlements in the oPt breach the Geneva Convention and are considered to be a war crime under the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Successive UN Security Council resolutions and a 2004 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have further reiterated their fundamental illegality.

In open defiance of this established consensus within international law, Israel continues to build and expand illegal settlements on expropriated Palestinian lands in the oPt and also plunders Palestinian natural resources such as water, stones and natural minerals. The acceleration of settler-colonialism in the oPt has impeded Palestinian development and forced many Palestinians to work in settlements on land they once owned that has now been turned over to settlers. 

This report by Al-Haq provides insight into the inhumane treatment of Palestinians who work in Illegal Israeli settlements, and it illustrates how their fundamental rights are systematically denied and disregarded, including by a dual legal system that privileges Jewish workers and upholds discriminatory working arrangements.

Israeli workers have their own pay-scale and enjoy health insurance and social benefits. Palestinians are paid significantly less, are not entitled to health insurance or social benefits, and are denied basic safety wear, even when they work in dangerous or hazardous conditions and environments. They are often subjected to  harassment and physical abuse. They cannot stand up for their rights as they know they will lose their jobs if they raise such issues with their employer/s. Unsurprisingly, the report concludes that “Palestinian labour rights in Israeli settlements are almost non-existent”.

International companies are deeply implicated in these abuses, which clearly undermines their claim that their presence is somehow legitimized by the work and other supposed benefits it produces for the Palestinian workforce. In dismissing this self-serving pretence, the report instead quite correctly indicts them as accomplices in a settler colonial crime. It concludes:

[T]he ugly truth unfolds of international and Israeli companies exploiting a captive Palestinian workforce in a captive economy, in companies operating on unlawfully appropriated Palestinian lands, pillaging the natural resources and subsistence of the Palestinian people, and maintained by a lethal military occupation and apartheid regime under the willful profiting eye of the international community.


Read the full report >

About the author

Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation based in Ramallah, West Bank. Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the organisation has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Al-Haq documents violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in the OPT, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and seeks to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding the violators accountable. The organisation conducts research; prepares reports, studies and interventions on breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law in the OPT; and undertakes advocacy before local, regional and international bodies. Al-Haq also cooperates with Palestinian civil society organisations and governmental institutions in order to ensure that international human rights standards are reflected in Palestinian law and policies. The organisation has a specialised international law library for the use of its staff and the local community. Al-Haq is the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists - Geneva and is a member of the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PRHOC), and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO). For its work in protecting and promoting human rights, the organisation has been awarded the Fayez A. Sayegh Memorial Award, the Rothko Chapel Award for Commitment to Truth and Freedom, The Carter-Menil Human Rights Foundation Prize, the Geuzenpenning Prize for Human Rights Defenders, the Welfare Association’s NGO Achievement Award, The Danish PL Foundation Human Rights Award, the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic, and the Human Rights and Business Award.

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