Settlement Slavery

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Waking up before dawn in the small village of Fasayil, deep in the heart of the Jordan Valley, we did not know what to expect. We were hoping to see, and maybe speak to some Palestinians that work in the nearby Israeli settlement farm: Tomer.

After a walk down a mud track we arrived outside the farm gates. As the sun started to come up, the workers began to arrive – buses full of women and trucks full of men. It wasn’t until one had passed us by that we saw the line of children, perched along the back end – some no older than 12 or 13.

Before long a factory worker arrived. He told us that there were more than 200 people working in the factory, mainly women, packing Medjool dates, destined for the European market. The company was Carmel Agrexco.

Workers in the factory were being paid about 10 shekels an hour (about …..), working from 6am – 4pm in the sweltering heat, usually with only a half an hour break. Nearby, more than 500 more were working in the fields, picking dates, tomatoes, peppers, grapes and aubergines.

We found out that the Israeli bosses’ only turn up for 10 minutes at about 9am and so decided to venture into the packing house.

Once inside, the evidence was there for all to see: line upon line of conveyor belts: box upon box of dates. All labelled “Made in Israel”, but grown on stolen Palestinian land. Packed by Palestinians, sold in British supermarkets, lining the pockets of settlers that illegally occupy the Jordan Valley.

For these workers there is little choice. Long hours, bad pay, poor conditions and no job security. Forced to work as modern day slaves, picking and packing produce grown on what is their land. What other choice to they have? They have no land of their own. Their message: Don’t support the occupation: Boycott Israeli Apartheid goods!

Olive Oil, Tubas, 2007

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