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24 Aug, 2009 05:40

The ultimate betrayal? Palestinians work on Israeli wall construction

The construction of Israeli settlements and dividing wall through the occupied territories continues despite increasing pressure from the West. Ironically, those doing the work are often Palestinian laborers.

Despite controversy and criticism, construction continues. An eight-meter high concrete barrier complete with watchtowers, electrified fences, trenches and cameras is well underway.

Israel says it’s will keep suicide bombers out. But what’s most surprising, are the people employed to build it. The workers dividing what’s planned to be the capital of Palestine are Palestinians themselves. Unsurprisingly, they refuse to show their faces on camera.

Why have those men decided to work against the will of their own community?

Mustafa, who is working in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, has been helping to build the wall for three years. With eight children to feed and no work in the Palestinian areas, he says he has no choice.

“I betrayed my country, my religion, my ideas, my law, but I have to feed my people, I have to feed my children,” said Mustafa.

Not everyone agrees.

Mohammed Ameera chose unemployment over helping Israelis separate him from his land. He can no longer reach the olive groves that once belonged to his father. The wall and an Israeli settlement now stand in the way.

“I love my life very much and I am happy in my life, but I am prepared to lose my life and my land for my child,” Mohammed said.

Mohammed and his neighbors are angry. They say the wall has eaten into more than two-thirds of their land. They protest by attacking Israeli soldiers with stones. But that can’t prevent the building.

There are the poor Palestinian laborers who’ve been employed by Israeli firms for years, afraid of losing their jobs if they refuse to work on the wall.

“There has been a fatwa from the Islamic committees in Palestine, that says it’s forbidden or it’s against the Islamic law to work on constructing the wall,” said Hindi Mesleh, head of the Wall Committee.

For the Israelis, the Palestinian workers are cheap labour. But for the Palestinians, it’s a devastating decision on whether or not to help Israel build its own “Berlin Wall”.

Read also Gaza: a people under siege