On May 10, Israeli tanks supported by helicopters invaded the densely populated Al-Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, this attack led to the death of 7 Palestinians and the injury of more than 127 people.
During this military operation, Israeli occupation forces surrounded the Star Soda factory located on Salah Al-Din Street near the old car market. They trapped ten workers inside the factory and prohibited them to return to their homes. At the time this press release was written, the workers were still inside the factory, without food, electricity, bedding or a place to sleep.
The trapped workers are: Jalal Dabour (27 years, engineer), Mohammed Jaser Al-Qatati (50 years, driver), Rafat Sarsour (23 years), Mohammed Al-Rimlawi (28 years), Salama Hillis (80 years, watchman), ‘Ata Hillis (84 years, watchman), Faraj Bakroun (70 years), Mansour Abu Shanab (70 years), Mohammed Fatayer (23 years) and Imad Al-Rimlawi (32 years).
According to the testimony of the workers’ representative inside the factory, on Monday May 11, Israeli forces entered the factory and detained two of the workers, Mohammed Al-Qatati and ‘Ata Hillis. From 1 a.m. until 5 a.m., when they left the factory, the Israeli soldiers continually threatened and tried to intimidate the workers. Two of the trapped workers suffer from health problems — Mohammed Al-Qatati is recovering from painful gland surgery and Mohammed Al-Rimlawi suffers from severe respiratory problems — and have no means to relieve their pain or receive medical care inside the factory. Furthermore, 4 of the 10 trapped workers are elderly men age 70 and above, particularly vulnerable under these conditions. The same day, the workers called the Red Cross for help, but the Red Cross answered that they could do nothing for them until they receive authorization from the Israeli side.
Two representatives — from a coordinating committee of workers committees in Gaza and the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center — attempted at 10:30 this morning to bring food to the trapped workers, but they were fired at by Israeli forces and were forced to withdraw.
The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine condemns the Israeli military’s inhumane measures against Palestinian civilians and workers. We are very worried about the well-being and life of these trapped workers, and call upon all international organizations and bodies, especially international trade union federations, the ILO and the Red Cross to intervene immediately. Assist us in our demand that the Israeli authorities safeguard the lives of these innocent 10 workers and desist in the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
DWRC is a non-governmental, non-profit worker’s rights organization unaffiliated with any political party. DWRC works to promote worker’s direct experience of democracy through the advancement of labor education and democratic unions.