Tel Aviv’s forces have arrested hundreds of undocumented Palestinian laborers working in Israel ahead of Jewish holidays during a massive operation denounced by rights activists as “racist.”
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Tel Aviv’s forces have arrested hundreds of undocumented Palestinian laborers working in Israel ahead of Jewish holidays during a massive operation denounced by rights activists as “racist.”
In the operation dubbed “Biur Chametz,” meaning cleaning a house from non-Kosher food, nearly 2,300 officers and “volunteers,” assisted by Israel’s air force, have raided dozens of locations in Israel since Saturday.
Out of the 569 arrested, 468 were Palestinian laborers working in Israel without permit, 17 were accused of harboring laborers, 24 were suspected of transporting and eight were suspected of employing.
“These operations will continue as long as necessary in different areas, as part of security in order to prevent incidents from taking place,” Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman said.
Rights activists have slammed the operation for both its crackdown on undocumented workers and the insulting connotation of its name.
Biur Chametz refers to a religious Jewish tradition of removing all traces of non-kosher food from a home either by cleaning all surfaces, burning leftovers, or giving them to non-Jews.
“Israeli police’s terminology towards people, like food that must be cleaned and removed, attests to the racist character of the police activity,” Adalah, an NGO dedicated to Palestinian legal rights in Israel, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Indeed, this is an ethnic cleansing.”
“These Palestinians do not have any intention to harm anyone yet the police treat them like criminals who must be arrested, for no fault of their own,” Adalah pointed out.
Israeli forces typically intensify crackdown on Palestinians before and during Jewish holidays, including massive arrests and closure of crossings into the occupied territories.
As of Thursday, a day before the Jewish holiday Passover, Israeli forces will close crossings from the West Bank and Gaza Strip for eight days, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
According to the Israeli army’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), 70,000 Palestinian workers with permits crossed daily into Israel in 2017.
Israeli police regularly carry out raids targeting undocumented workers, as well as the Israeli citizens suspected of employing them and housing them.
In July 2017, Israeli forces detained 98 Palestinians during a similar operation against undocumented workers.