M., a Palestinian resident of one of the villages south of Hebron who works in Israel, says he has been trying for three months to make an appointment for his renewal, but to no avail. In his distress, he had to turn to the enforcers to solve the problem for him, for a fee. Like him, other workers claim to have encountered similar distress.
A valid magnetic card serves as a kind of "second identity card" and is necessary for every Palestinian resident of Judea and Samaria who applies for work in Israel. The card is in fact a basic and prerequisite for any Palestinian who wants to enter Israel for any purpose, hence its importance. "Anyone whose magnetic card has not been renewed on time risks losing his job and will not be able to receive medical treatment in Israel," explains Assaf Adiv, CEO of Ma'an – a labor organization.
The magnetic card, photo: from Facebook, the trade in queues for magnetic card armor
The card is issued or renewed by making an appointment at the DCO offices throughout Judea and Samaria through the Al-Mansk application (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories). However, according to M., his and his friends' attempts to reserve an appointment to renew the ticket at the office closest to their place of residence at Tarqumiya Crossing were unsuccessful. "The computerized system does not provide dates, and responds: no dates were found," he says.
Forced to use the services of intermediaries, photo: From: Facebook, trading in queues for magnetic card reservation
Having no other choice, in search of an alternative, he and other Palestinian workers turned directly to middlemen who demanded money for the service. "I turned to one of them last week asking for help, and after only one day he got me an appointment," M. says. "I paid the realtor NIS 230 per appointment for me. Normally, it should cost 130 shekels, but he took an extra 100 shekels. I did it for other members of my family as well. I estimate that every day there are dozens of such actions. Without the magnetic card, no one sees you, you're like a suspect and you can't move from place to place, and I can't take that risk as someone who provides for a family. Why do we have to get to such a situation where we have to pay middlemen?"
Palestinian workers talk about how easy it is to find middlemen who trade magnetic card queues. "The networks, Facebook and WhatsApp groups even have their phone numbers. Some of them operate openly and there is no problem reaching them. They take advantage of our difficulty and make money."
Ma'an wrote to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories on Monday demanding that the problem of scheduling appointments in the Hebron area be resolved. "Ma'an has been warning about this issue since October 2022, when the authorities informed us that a technological effort and other steps would be taken to make it easier to renew tickets. More than six months later, the story has not been solved," says CEO Assaf Adib. "The fact that Palestinian workers have to pay brokerage fees to get an appointment is particularly outrageous. We demand that the existing permits be extended for an additional period of six months until the issue is resolved."
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has not yet received a response.
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