Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Arab Construction worker killed and 9 wounded as missile hits Israeli city

This is from WAC-MAAN, the Workers' Advice Centre (Ma'an in Arabic) which works to unite Israeli and Palestinian workers.


WAC-MAAN – Nazareth

Press release: December 30, 2008

Arab Construction worker killed and 9 wounded as missile hits the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Monday

WAC-MAAN calls upon trade unions and the international labor movement to pressure their governments to stop Israel’s war on Gaza

On Monday morning, Dec. 29, a Grad missile launched in Gaza hit a construction site in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. It killed Hani al Mahdi, 27 years old, from the Arab town of Aarara in the Negev. It also injured nine workers from the Arab village of Kufr Manda in Galilee.

These men, who were working to gain a decent life for their families, fell victim to Israel's war on Gaza, which started Saturday and has so far killed 300 in Gaza, as well as injuring 1000. Among the killed and wounded are many civilians.

Israel claims that it is defending its citizens in the South. But these people are working-class, and the government has shown by its policies that the lives and security of workers mean nothing to it: its priorities are with the rich.

WAC-MAAN, an independent trade-union association, has been active for many years in Kufr Manda. Many construction workers, including those who were injured on Monday, are members and supporters of WAC, which acts day and night to defend the rights of workers in Israel, especially Arabs.

We know from our members that they have to travel 200 kilometers each day, like the nine who were injured in Ashkelon, just to find a place that is willing to hire them. Their tenuous job situation has caused them, in recent years, to work without social benefits at sites that threaten their safety and health. The government encourages the formation of a “precarious work force” in order to help employers and investors.

The same government that started the present war has sent tens of thousands into unemployment, while destroying the social security net in accordance with its neoliberal agenda.

WAC-MAAN opposes the war on Gaza and calls for an immediate cease fire. After the war ends, we know, hundreds of thousands on both sides of the border will remain poor and unemployed. Palestinian workers are shut jobless behind the separation wall, while their families languish in poverty and hunger. Israeli workers, for their part, are starting to feel the pinch of the global financial crisis, with higher levels of unemployment and further attacks on earlier social gains.

The killing of Hani al Mahdi on Monday brings to mind the situation of 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel, whom the establishment routinely brands as disloyal. In reality, half the Arab families here live below the poverty line, although the national average is 20%. They live in towns without infrastructure or job opportunities, a result of discriminatory policies implemented since Israel was established 60 years ago.

WAC-MAAN calls upon trade unions around the world to pressure their governments for action that will force Israel to end its brutal attack on the Palestinians in Gaza, stop its occupation of Palestinian lands and accept the right of the Palestinians to self determination and peace.