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At West Bank Factories, maintaining peace is a common interest

BARKAN, West Bank – An Israeli factory in the West Bank is demanding that its Jewish employees in military service refrain from looking in uniform so that the Palestinian workers do not feel occupied, according to an Israeli manager.

At Barkan Industrial Park, one of several Israel-operated trade zones near Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank that Israel and its supporters have long favored as models of coexistence, factory owners pay Israeli and Palestinian workers alike. They avoid any visible security or weapons. And they organize company barbecues to ease the tensions.

But these efforts suffered a blow last weekend when a 23-year-old Palestinian electrician, referred to by the Israeli authorities as Ashraf Naalwa, moved to the second floor of the factory where he worked. Armed with a submachine gun, he tied the hands of a secretary, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, a 28-year-old mother of an infant, before killing her, the authorities said.

Then he killed the 35-year-old Ziv Hagbi, an accountant and father of three. He shot and wounded a 54-year-old employee, Sarah Vettori, before he fled.

The other factories in Barkan, deep in the central West Bank, were back to normal a few days later, albeit disturbed by the fact that The Suspect was at large. But the attack underlined what many have been trying to ignore for a long time: these islands of cooperation are vulnerable points of vulnerability in a territory that the Palestinians claim for a future state, and that is part of a Jewish settlement project that most of the world regards as an infringement of the International holds

The machines of the Alon Group in which the attack took place remained inactive all week long. Obituaries hang at the entrance gate of the factory where waste management systems are manufactured.

"There is now a lot of pressure from different sides on us," said logistics manager Eran Bodankin. "They say it's best to get back to work right away, prevent post-trauma, and show the enemy forces they did not beat us." But he said the company was still focused on mourning and supporting the families of those killed

"We will return when we feel that we are emotionally ready," he said, "and can provide our workers with the necessary Provide security so they can get home safely. "

In the next room a group of employees, including some Palestinian managers, met with psychologists. During a break in the courtyard, one Israeli said he had worked here with some Palestinians for years, but he did not think they were truly sorry, despite what they had said. Another said the point was trying to get back to what was before.

Ms. Vettori told reporters from her hospital bed how a Palestinian employee, Basel, ran to her, comforted her, and stopped the flow of blood from her wound with a roll of paper until help arrived.

"One murder and another saves life," she said.

The streets off the Barkan bubble, where armed soldiers guard Israeli bus stops, are raging with violence and danger. On Thursday, a Palestinian attacker stabbed and wounded a reserve soldier near an army headquarters. On Saturday, Israeli police said they were investigating the death of a Palestinian woman who was hit by Palestinians with a stone thrown by settlers as she drove her husband in a car.

But Israeli-controlled industrial and commercial zones in the West Bank are often viewed by Israeli supporters as evidence that military rule over the West Bank can benefit the Palestinians. Jewish Settler Leaders Bring International Groups to Barkan

When Jason D. Greenblatt, President Trump's Special Representative for International Negotiations and Negotiators in the Middle East condemned the attack, described Barkan as a "beacon for living together" and a model for the future.

The West Bank industrial zones offer industrialists cheaper incentives than central Israel, and the 3,000 or so Palestinians who work in Barkan have a clear appeal: they are treated equally at work and earn the same salaries and benefits Israeli minimum wage – equivalent to about $ 1,500 a month – is nearly three times what unskilled workers in Palestinian-controlled countries deserve in the West Bank, and most Palestinians working in Barkan are doing more Overtime, and some become shift or shift managers.

A factory sends all its workers into annual group vacations: The Palestinian employees were recently given the choice between Amman or Istanbul, while a Jewish group will soon go to Naples.

The Palestinian Autonomy He rejects Palestinians working in the settlements but has not tried to stop them. However, it banned the Palestinians from selling settlement products and viewed the industrial areas as a symbol of the normalization of occupation and entrenchment.

"Someone is occupying your land, stealing your land, stealing your water, stealing your resources, and then saying," I'll make you a good business if you work for me, I'll make jobs for you, we're not Occupiers, we are employers, "said Nabil Shaath, a high-ranking Palestinian official. The colonial settlements are literally illegal. "

If the more than 60 percent of the West Bank were under complete Israeli control with international support in the Palestinian hands, Mr. Shaath said," We could create a paradise . "

At the same time, he said he could not tell his people that they should not go to the settlements and withdraw their income.

In 2010, Salam Fayyad, then the prime minister of technology, won the trust of the West and helped to turn the products made in the settlements into a campfire during a protest rally in the Palestinian town of Salfit near Barkan.

Palestinians working in Barkan's factories were furious with the assailant of the Alon group, spoiling things. They usually complained about much stricter security checks at the entrance to Barkan since the attack, which they can keep in line for more than an hour.

"Of course it ruined," said Basel Abu Hijleh, a Palestinian who has been working for 14 years at the Lipski plant, which manufactures plastic, sanitary and sanitary products. "Now we have to be here at five in the morning."

In the zone on a last day of the week there were no soldiers or visible security. Ofer Alter, the manager of Lipski, says he tries to create a "family atmosphere".

"The owner believes that peace comes from below," he said. "If we work shoulder to shoulder, peace will come."

Many Palestinian workers warmly welcome him as they arrive for the afternoon shift. In addition to the posting of workers on vacation abroad, the company also offers loans.

"Here, inside, I feel that we live an ideal," said Alter. "But who knows what can happen in an hour? Once they are out of the Green Gate, I have no control over anyone."

Israeli and Palestinian colleagues rarely meet outside their work. Israel prohibits its citizens from accessing cities controlled by the Palestinian Authority, citing security concerns, and Palestinians generally require special permits to enter Israel. Mr. Alter once went with a group to Salfit to hold a condolence call when the father of a worker died and admits that he was afraid.

Some companies, such as the Barkan Winery and SodaStream, have left the West to defend their business overseas Bank in the face of pressure from an international boycott movement in support of Palestinian rights

At Danntex Mayerfeld, a textile factory, vice president for Selling to the United States, it said there would be distributors with whom one would no longer work together the company in Europe. "This is occupied territory for them," he said. "They do not take into account the income of the Palestinians."

Mr. New York-based Mayerfeld said he has a personal weapon, but he left it at home in line with corporate policy.

Udai Mustafa, 28, of Salfit, has been working for Oftex for 10 years. His father and a brother also work there. Mr. Mustafa does not like Israeli settlements, but he has to look after a family.

"I'm going home to work from home," he said. "I have a wife and three children, if you have work, take her wherever she is."

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