The Palestinian Gazans: Their friends, their family, their families, their friends and their families. And when Israeli forces force Gaza back, thousands more remain stuck in the West Bank
“My son, when I speak with him, I say, ‘How are you?’ and he tells me, ‘Baba, I write my name on my arm, in case I am killed,'” Zrain says. His son wants people to know who he is before he dies.
His wife and five children are staying in Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, where the United Nations estimates some 50,000 people are seeking refuge from Israeli strikes. Even though the news is chilling, he still enjoys his calls and text messages.
The workers from Gaza are safe in the courtyard of the university and being away from their children is not good for them, as evidenced by the fact that Basel Zrain tells NPR.
He scrolls through photos of his daughters. Seeing pictures of their smiling faces, before the war, helps him forget all the bad things that have happened, he says.
Alfarany has more than twenty nieces and nephews and he gets overwhelmed thinking about what they are going through.
Every Palestinian worker in the West Bank has to leave Israel, and so does his brother, Ibrahim Alfarany, who is at university, has to go back to Gaza
“I had a video, but it disturbed me too much that I deleted it,” he says. I watched it four or five times and said that I was going to get rid of it.
A few weeks ago his wife and kids narrowly escaped an Israeli airstrike. There are no buildings left in his neighborhood on the northern outskirts of Gaza City, he says, and his house was among those destroyed.
Alfarany said that he is very happy and relieved to know that his brother is still alive, and that the life in Gaza is hard to watch from afar.
While Alfarany was able to take a bus to the West Bank after Oct. 7, his brother was detained by the Israeli military near Nahariya, in northern Israel. Alfarany finally talked to his brother on Friday, after being out of contact for over two weeks.
Ibrahim Alfarany, who is a Palestinian worker, has been at the university for more than three weeks. He goes back to Gaza for a few weeks at a time to stock up on vegetables at a store just south of Tel Aviv.
Many workers from the Gaza Strip who were not arrested in the aftermath of the October 7 attack are stuck in shelters and camps in the West Bank. The West Bank, which is under Israeli occupation, was where they were able to make their way. For now, their accommodations are provided by the Palestinian Authority, which has some local control in the West Bank.
Laundry is hung from the windows at the Al-Istiqlal University campus. In dorm rooms, there are bunk beds, while larger halls have mattresses pushed against the walls. There are bags on the floor filled with whatever belongings they have. If you’re on the wait list you can get a shave and a trim at an impromptu barber shop in the communal sinks.
Since then, as Israel has mounted a military campaign on Gaza in response, Israeli authorities have indefinitely paused worker permits for Palestinians over security concerns, hitting both Israeli industry and the West Bank’s economy.
Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 have killed more than 9,000 people, 70% of them women and children, according to Palestinian health officials. Nearly 200,000 homes have been destroyed.
They have to go through Israel if they want to return to Gaza. Even if they could, there is no way of knowing how they would get to Gaza.
On Friday, they heard about thousands of other laborers who were forced to return to Gaza on foot from Israel — dropped off several miles from the Israeli border with Gaza, wearing numbered tags on their ankles.
There are calls with relatives in the West Bank, while news from Gaza can be heard over the communal sinks, between bunk beds, and on the phone. For thousands of workers from Gaza who are stuck in makeshift shelters and camps in the West Bank, most of their world is still 60 miles away.
The Israeli Construction Industry in Tel Aviv Since the First Israeli–Mexican-Gaza-Brazil War: A Case Study
Just outside of downtown Tel Aviv, the half-built apartment building has been empty for almost a month: conduits of wires hanging loose from the ceiling, piles of unused rebar rusting, water collecting in dirt around the foundation.
The manager said that normally there would be 20 or 25 workers here. But on this day in early November, there are only himself and a couple of others there only to keep an eye on the site and make sure nobody has broken in.
Like most construction projects across Israel, work on these apartments has been on pause since Oct. 7, the day thousands of fighters from the Gaza-based militant group Hamas poured across the border into Israel, where they killed about 1,400 people and kidnapped hundreds of others.
About 13% of all employed Palestinians worked in Israel or Israeli settlements before the war, according to the International Monetary Fund. Many of the people who worked in construction had also worked in agriculture or the service sector.
Left without those workers — and without alternative sources of labor, as Israeli reservists have been called to war and many foreign workers have fled the conflict — the construction industry in Israel is operating at 15% of its prewar capacity, according to the Israel Builders Association, an industry group.
“It’s a very, very big problem for the Israeli economy,” said Shay Pauzner, the association’s deputy director-general. “This is one of the places where every Israeli will feel the impact of this war: in his pocket.”
And for Palestinians in the West Bank, the sudden shutoff of income has rippled through the economy, as workers struggle to pay their rent, car payments and children’s tuition. The more desperate the workers are, the more it will go on.
Both Israelis and Palestinians said that the current situation has no comparison to what happened in the past between Israel and Hamas.
A handyman for a monastery in west Jerusalem told NPR he was likely to be replaced if he missed much more work. The metalworker for the construction sites said he was relieved that his daughter’s tuition was paid before the war began because if it goes on too long, his family will become poor.
Mahmoud doesn’t work for Israelis, he said, instead preferring to work for Palestinian employers around the West Bank. That has become more difficult in the war, too: Israel has closed roads and checkpoints across the West Bank, making it hard to know how long it will take to commute to a job — or if it will even be possible to do so.
Raed hasn’t been able to return since October 7 and didn’t get his wages until last month. He has no money because his wife and two small children have to eat.
I don’t know what to do. Nobody knows if we’re going to go back or not,” Raed said. I am completely devastated on a financial level. I don’t know how to provide for my family.”
Source: [Israel’s war with Hamas](https://lostobject.org/2023/10/12/there-are-neighborhoods-in-gaza-where-israel-strikes-as-the-war-escalates/) disrupts Palestinian workers and Israeli employers alike
War does not destroy Israel: The Palestinians, Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank are outraged by the israeli government
At a small grocery store near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, the store owner, Nasser, constantly watches news about the war as he mans the checkout counter.
In normal times, he allows regular customers to buy groceries on credit as needed. But since the war began, the number of customers asking to make purchases on credit has gone up fivefold, Nasser told NPR, and the amount of money they owe has risen, too.
“Israelis who put their money in Israel move the economy”, said Mahmoud, an electrician. “But if no one is working in Israel, then we don’t get any money here. Everything stops. The two of us are on the same wheel.
Few people have the cash to pay him. He said people with savings are keeping their money tight because of the war.
He answered yes if the war ends so things can get back to normal, but only if the Palestinians and Israel agree on a course of action.
“This is a sacrifice for the sake of getting at least part of my rights one day,” he said. “And no matter how much I sacrifice, no matter the price, it won’t be like what my cousins in Gaza are going through.”
Gottlieb Construction, the company whose construction sites are paused because of terrorism, said a person who leaves at five in morning and returns at seven in evening has no time for terrorism. This is a concept that I believed in as well.
But the chill on worker permits has extended to workers from the West Bank, who had long been seen as safer than those from Gaza, in part because the West Bank is run by the more moderate Palestinian Authority, as opposed to Hamas, which governs Gaza.
“I am against the entry of thousands of workers from the PA who may endanger civilian lives at this time,” said Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s national security minister, in a post last month on the social media site X (previously known as Twitter) in response to a proposal to allow 8,000 Palestinian men over the age of 60 and women of any age to return to work on Israeli farms.
“This situation has made everyone who hears Arabic fear that there are terrorists roaming around,” he said. Mayors fear for their safety and have asked construction companies to close the sites.
Like almost all Israelis in the construction industry, Gottlieb has worked alongside Palestinians for his entire career. “We have a personal relationship with them, and even these days, I can say that I love them,” he said. “I have employees that I know better than my friends.”