BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces recently detained 28 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank for entering Israel without Israeli permission, as well as six Palestinian citizens of Israel accused of transporting them, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri reported Sunday.
“As part of serious efforts and various activities by Israeli police to maintain stability and public security in the region, six Arab suspects were detained in the Negev on Route 6 near Beit Surik, for transferring 28 Palestinians to Israel in their vehicles without having legal permits,” she wrote.
She said all detainees were being interrogated and investigations were ongoing “across the country regarding this matter.”
One of the Palestinian citizens of Israel suspected of transporting the West Bank Palestinians put posters for Shas, an ultra-Orthodox religious political party in Israel, on his vehicle “as a camouflage” when transporting eight Palestinians from Hebron in the occupied West Bank, al-Samri said.
A video purporting to show Israeli police apprehending the vehicle was later circulated in Israeli media.
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.
Israeli authorities have imposed a massive crackdown
on undocumented workers in Israel, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming in March 2016 that “a large proportion of (Palestinian) attackers were present in Israel illegally or infiltrated into Israel illegally” since the beginning of a wave of violence in the fall of 2015.
However, few Palestinians attackers were in fact workers in Israel, and the recent crackdown on undocumented workers has been condemned by rights groups as a political game, unlikely to affect the violence yet economically harmful to both Palestinians and Israelis.