According to Zu Haderech (“This is the Way”), the Hebrew-language weekly published by the Communist Party of Israel (CPI), from October through December 2019, B’Tselem documented more than 10 cases in which occupation soldiers fired live ammunition and rubber-coated bullets at the legs of Palestinians trying to enter Israel for work through gaps in the Separation Barrier. In some cases, the soldiers were lying in wait to ambush and purposely injure those attempting to enter, even though tens of thousands of Palestinian regularly work in Israel every day, many of them without permits.
In the 10 documented cases, live rounds wounded at least 17 workers, and one other was hit in the torso by a “rubber” bullet. All incidents took place north of Tulkarm in the occupied Palestinian territories.
According to estimates by the Israeli media, about a third of the tens of thousands of Palestinians who enter Israel from the occupied West Bank every day have no choice but to risk entering without a permit. These workers and supporters of families are caught “between a rock and hard place”: On one hand, Israel issues permits sparingly, based on stringent, arbitrarily-chosen criteria; on the other hand, as an occupying power, it actively prevents the development of an independent Palestinian economy by restricting imports, exports, industrial development and movement, and by taking over land reserves and other Palestinian resources.
This leaves Palestinians with no possibility of making a substantial living within the West Bank. This reality serves Israeli interests, as it guarantees cheap, disempowered labor, and the authorities generally ignore the thousands of workers who enter Israel every day without a permit. Nevertheless, the military has recently decided to fire live ammunition and “rubber” bullets at Palestinian workers entering Israel via gaps in the Separation Barrier, in places where it consists of concertina wire, a fence, a security road and yet another line of coiled razor wire.
The Israeli military has not even attempted to deny that its soldiers have opened fire at workers who pose no danger. According to B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, “It is not clear who decided to start shooting at workers crossing the barrier, or why. What is clear is that shooting at the lower body of a person who poses no danger, with no prior warning, is unlawful – all the more so in this case, given that the shooting was premeditated and carried out from ambushes by soldiers who were waiting to inflict injury on the workers. The military’s attempt to portray this as a response to unusual circumstances is a flagrant lie: the Israeli authorities are well aware that workers routinely cross through these openings and generally turn a blind eye.”