HRW 'Lies' About Arab Abuse at Jewish Farms

Jordan Valley head debunks accusations after leftist NGO claims 'hundreds of children' are put in danger in Jewish farms in the region.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

David Elhayani
David Elhayani

The Jordan Valley regional committee head rejected reports on Monday by the leftist NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), which claimed that Palestinian Arab children were being abused working on Jewish farms in the Jordan Valley.

HRW alleged that "hundreds of children," some as young as 11, work for low wages and in "hazardous" conditions in Jewish farms.

"Israel's settlements are profiting from rights abuses against Palestinian children," HRW's Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson claimed. "Children from communities impoverished by Israel's discrimination and settlement policies are dropping out of school and taking on dangerous work because they feel they have no alternatives, while Israel turns a blind eye."

The report is based on the statements of 38 Palestinian Arab children and 12 adults who said they worked on Jewish farms, with it claimed that minors worked over 60 hours a week at times.

Jordan Valley head David Elhayani, himself a former farmer, thoroughly debunked the claims while speaking with AFP.

"They've made up lies. The entire goal of this organization (HRW) is to sully Israel's image. If they'd show me a farmer employing a child, I'd report it to police immediately," said Elhayani.

Elhayani pointed out it is simply not worth it for Jordan Valley farmers to hire minors due to the relative complexity of the agricultural work there.

A farmer would also lose his exporting license if he were caught employing a minor, Elhayani said.

Further disproving HRW's claims, a study released in February found that Palestinian Arab workers enjoy much better salaries and working conditions under Jewish employers than under Arab employers in Judea and Samaria.

Elhayani noted that there are "Palestinian contractors who come for very specific jobs for a short period of time, when increased manpower is needed. ...If some child infiltrates, I have no way of knowing."

The Jordan Valley head stressed that no Jordan Valley farmers directly employ minors.

In releasing its report, HRW also called on the US and Europe to exclude "settlement produce" from the preferential tariffs provided to Israeli export products.

"The EU has moved to exclude Israeli settlement products from the preferential tariff treatment it provides to Israeli goods...but (member states) have not instructed businesses to end" trade with Judea and Samaria-based entities," it said. "The US in practice continues to grant preferential treatment to Israeli settlement products under the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement."

HRW has a somewhat problematic record, highlighted when its head Kenneth Roth was exposed last August condoning Hamas war crimes.