Jenin truck drivers strike against new Israeli delivery rules
Published Sunday 06/04/2014 (updated) 07/04/2014 09:47
"We truck owners and drivers want to live and subsist in dignity"
JENIN (Ma'an) -- Palestinian truck drivers in the Jenin district went on strike for two hours on Sunday in protest against a recent Israeli decision to allow Israeli trucks to deliver goods directly into the West Bank, a labor union said.
Union member Kayid Awwad told Ma'an that more than 120 truck drivers went on strike for two hours at al-Jalameh crossing in the northern West Bank in protest against the Israeli move, which they say will introduce unfair competition.
"Our demand is clear. If Israel allows Israeli trucks into Palestinian territory, then Palestinian trucks must be allowed into Israeli territory," Awwad said.
The protest, he said, was a clear message to Palestinian officials urging them to investigate the dire conditions truck drivers will experience in the wake of the Israeli decision.
Awwad explained that Israel decided to allow Israeli trucks to deliver goods to the West Bank directly, meaning that Palestinian truck drivers will find themselves jobless.
Before the new decision, Israeli trucks used to unload their freight at a special terminal in al-Jalameh crossing, after which Palestinian trucks would carry the goods into the West Bank.
Although Israeli citizens can freely enter the vast majority of the West Bank, Palestinian citizens are largely barred entry into Israel without special permits.
As a result, Palestinians complain that they face major obstacles to economic development, as Israel enjoys near uninhibited access to the Palestinian market while Palestinians face widespread Israeli restrictions.
A World Bank report released in October, for example, said that Israel's control over Area C -- about 61 percent of the West Bank -- deprives the Palestinian economy of an estimated $3.4 billion a year, equivalent to some 35 percent of the Palestinian gross domestic product in 2011.
The report blamed the Israeli military's exclusive control over the territory for undermining the Palestinian economy and contributing to wide-ranging unemployment.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.