09:37 , 03.22.09


Racist Order?
Oren Rosenfeld Community of Har Adar (archives) Oren Rosenfeld
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Har Adar banning movement of Palestinians

Official order forbids Arab laborers to walk around Jerusalem corridor community. Association for Civil Rights: This is racism. 'I can't understand what's wrong with what we're doing,' says Har Adar's security officer
Danny Adino Ababa

Palestinian laborers are forbidden to walk around the community of Har Adar in the Jerusalem corridor. They are allowed to work, but cannot simply roam the area. This is the local council's policy.


Some 600 Palestinian workers arrived every morning at Har Adar, a community located beyond the Green Line which accommodates many military and security officials.


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The laborers are forbidden to move on foot in the community, and are even not allowed to shop at the local grocery store. They must ask their employer to take care of their needs or drive them wherever they wish to go.


The instruction appears on the community's website, where it is stated explicitly that "laborers are strictly forbidden to move around the community on foot, between the construction sites."


Palestinian laborers working in the community refused to discuss the matter on Saturday. "We're not allowed to talk," said one of them, an east Jerusalem resident. "Talk to the contractor, he'll tell you everything."


Attorney Limor Yehuda of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel is infuriated by this matter. In a letter sent to the community's council she determined that a local council like Har Adar has no authority to issue such orders against Palestinian workers.


"This is a racist instruction based on a general fear of Arabs, which is reminiscent of dark days in the history of mankind," she wrote.


The community's lawyer said in his response to Attorney Yehuda that he trusts the Border Guard's formality and believes there is no reason to unload the workers at the entrance to the community and let them walk a long distance to the construction site.


An Israel Defense Forces also told Attorney Yehuda that the instruction is aimed at maintaining the Palestinian workers' rights.


"These instructions were meant to express a balance between the desire to allow the employment of Palestinian workers in Israeli communities and the great risk in the Palestinian laborers' entry into Israeli communities," the IDF said in an official response to Attorney Yehuda.


"This reply devastated me the most," said Attorney Yehuda, "because it ignores the Palestinians' human rights and treats them as a resource."


'Understandable security reasons'

Har Adar's security officer, Yair Fischer, doesn’t understand what the fuss is all about. "We have 500 to 600 Palestinians in the community. This instruction is meant to protect the community's residents. This isn't even my personal instruction, but a military order forbidding Palestinians to walk around an area like the community."


Palestinian workers who arrive at the community undergo a strict security check by the Shin Bet, but Fischer is unimpressed.


"The Shin Bet doesn’t always know with what tantrum a Palestinian might wake up. These things have happened before," he says. "I don't think Har Adar's residents should be afraid or fear Palestinians walking around the community.


"Laborers who wish to shop in the grocery store do it through a ride to the store. They are satisfied with that and so are we. The Palestinian workers don’t have to walk a long distance inside the community in the rain or in the sun. I just can't understand what is wrong with what we're doing."


The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response, "In accordance with the instructions of security officials, the movement of Palestinian laborers in the community is accompanied by the employer or his representative.


"This is in order to guarantee security and prevent illegal residents from entering the State of Israel. This is not a ban on movement, but a need for accompaniment for understandable security reasons."