Palestinian workers under “moral terror”

Mahmoud Al-Dhabous, 41, from Jabalia camp, north of Gaza, messaging the hair of his sleeping daughter (Shimo) while recalling the moments when Israeli attempts to recruit him. (Sami Abu Salem/WAFA)

JABALIA REFUGEE CAMP (WAFA) — In the heart of Jabalia Refugee Camp, there was no more room in the two-room 50 square meters house of Mahmoud Al-Dhabous 42. He is an unemployed father of 7 children, lost his work because he refused to “betray his people.”

The washbasin in the kitchen is broken. The door of the bathroom is full of holes while the two rooms packed with sleeping children, clothes and books.

Al-Dhabous is a sample of thousands of Palestinian workers the Israeli intelligence have been trying to recruit them as traitors for a permission of work inside the Hudna line (in Israel).

For nine consecutive years, Al-Dhabous has worked for a factor of greenhouses in the industrial zone of “Eretz”. He has been jobless for more than a year. The Israeli intelligence prevented him from working as he refused to “collaborate”. They save no efforts for recruiting as much Palestinian labours as possible to work as agents for them. The matter breaches the Oslo Accord between the PLO and Israel.

In an early morning (in February 2004), when dozens of workers try to reach their work, a special military vehicle carries groups of workers to meet intelligence officer for “interrogation”. Al-Dhabous went through three days of psychological pressure. He was among a dozen of workers carried by the vehicle from the main path leading to his work. They were detained at a 2x2 caravan from the early morning to the sunset.

“It was very cold, I was trembling because of cold and worry. We were asking ourselves what the future holds. At the sunset, they carried us in a truck and ordered us to go back home,” he said, “it was unforgettable moment, I entered a very prestigious and warm room in a sever cold winter.

It was a big room with a high ceiling and snug chairs.”

After detailed questions on his life, the officer performed that he feels sorry for the daily wage NIS60 (around $15) for a father of seven. “He tried to seduce me by offering a new work with a daily wage of NIS 350 (around $80), for mutual help,” Al-Dhabous said.

“At that moment, I remembered the innocent children and women killed by Israeli weapon. I remembered the Palestinian daily streams of blood by Israeli weapons, I remembered my sons, my wife, my parents. Really It was a very horrible moment,” Al-Dhabous recalled.

Al-Dhabous did not hesitate to strongly refuse, but the officer asked him to “think”.

The next day, the same scenario was repeated with Al-Dhabous, but with another agent. Another officer tried to convince him while the other 6 giants surrounded him. “I was really afraid and so angry, he tried several times to convince me in a polite way and I strongly refused as the image of the ripped- apart bodies of Palestinian children is still stuck in my mind,” Al-Dhabous recalled while messaging his hand on his little sleeping daughter.

It was about one hour but longer than a century, I shouted and cursed the Israeli occupation and all perfidious people, I told him that I am ready to starve to death rather than to betray my people and my homeland,” he said, “it is a moral terror.”

Minutes after, the officer kicked Al-Dhabous out. Several days later he lost his work permission.

Since that time, Al-Dhabous suffers unemployment. He did thousands of attempts to overcome his unendurable situation. Sometimes he works as a candy and stationery seller at the doors of the schools of Jabalia camp, sometimes as a porter or any available work. He spends most of his days looking for a job vacancy but “it is like some body who is looking for a needle in a heap of hay.”

The children of Al-Dhabous also try to help their father, after the end of his school day, the 15-year-old son, Hussein, becomes a hawker. He carries on his shoulder a big nylon sack full of fresh pies. “I sell pies to help my father. He lost his work because he refused to deceive us, I love him,” Hussein said, “I bought my school clothes, a bag and stationery from the profits of the cake.”

Two other pies hawkers “Ahmed 7, and Mohemmed 12,” were so tired and sleeping in a narrow room. As we were to leave home, the eldest hawker, Hassan 17, has arrived home starving.

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