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Two Palestinian construction workers killed in scaffolding collapse

Jerusalem24 – Yara Alnazer and Noelle Mafarjeh – Two Palestinian construction workers were killed when scaffolding collapsed at a construction site in the illegal Israeli settlement of Givat Ze’ev, northwest of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, on Sunday afternoon.

The two workers, both in their 30s, were named as Mahmoud Hmamreh, from the village of Husan near Bethlehem, and Mohammad Al-Qaisi, from Battir also near Bethlehem.

Another 32-year-old worker was injured and taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital for treatment, according to Israel’s emergency services. His condition was described as moderate.

Loose scaffolding

12 stories of scaffolding collapsed on the workers at the site in the Israeli settlement, which was under supervision by Palestinian contractor Abu Ayash Brothers Ltd.

According to a preliminary investigation quoted by Haaretz, the workers said that they recently alerted the contractor that the scaffolding was loose. However, the contractor “was not interested”.

Israeli police detained the site’s work manager, infrastructure manager, and outer shell manager for investigation, while a stop-work order was issued and the site was closed.

Abu Ayyash Brothers Ltd. told Jerusalem24 that they offered their condolences to the families of Hmamreh and Al-Qaisi, and could not comment further pending investigation.

Safety laws

Despite the Israeli police having jurisdiction to investigate the deaths in the occupied West Bank, Israeli health and safety legislation does not apply to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and contractors do not have to meet specific safety criteria.

Due to this lack of oversight, no accurate records exist of the number of fatal work accidents in the West Bank, which mostly involve Palestinian laborers.

However, at least 36 deaths have occurred at construction sites within Israel and illegal Israeli settlements in 2022. Earlier this year, four Palestinian workers were killed within 24 hours in three separate incidents inside Israel.

Safe Work Israel, an Israeli NGO that advocates for safer working conditions and compiles statistics on work accidents, said the mortality rate of work accidents in Israel stands at 14 for every 100,000 workers – roughly five times as high as certain European countries. The mortality trend has not improved in the last five years.

Some 58,000 Palestinian laborers are employed in the construction industry in Israel.

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