Dozens of Palestinian workers suffered tear-gas suffocation while at Checkpoint 300, north of the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, as Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters at hundreds of workers waiting at the checkpoint on Tuesday morning.
Palestinian security sources said that Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters towards workers after protesting Israeli soldiers’ ill-treatment of them.
Israeli forces then sealed off the checkpoint, denying workers access to their workplaces inside Israel.
Under Israel’s permit regime, Palestinian residents of the West Bank are not allowed to access occupied East Jerusalem or Israel without an Israeli-issued permit, and many risk being shot and injured while trying to cross into Israel to work.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel due to crippling unemployment in the West Bank, as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to rights groups.
Workers who hold Israeli entry permits, however, must endure long waits at the Checkpoint 300, one of the only access points Palestinians from the southern West Bank have to Jerusalem and Israel.
Checkpoint 300 was built in 2005 two kilometers inside of the green line, despite rulings by the International Court of Justice that the separation wall was deemed illegal in 2004.
High numbers of Palestinians, especially construction laborers, cross through the checkpoint every day, facing frequent overcrowding and often waiting for hours in line due to Israeli security measures.