Israelis are allegedly sending Palestinian children from the West Bank to stand at junctions and roads in northern Israel and beg drivers for handouts, with the money going to the handlers, drawing accusations of exploitation.
The practice has been going on for years, but it gained attention this week after one of those children, an 8-year-old boy, was hit by a vehicle and seriously hurt last Saturday.
The boy is still sedated and on a respirator at Rambam hospital in Haifa, Channel 12 news reported Wednesday evening, adding that it wasn’t the first such incident.
The report said the trend has been growing in recent months, but didn’t provide numbers or details about who the Israeli employers are or how much they pay the children.
It said kids can be seen asking for money or selling toys at “almost every road or junction” in northern Israel, and said Israel and the Palestinian Authority weren’t sufficiently cooperating to prevent that.
The report showed Israel Police officers arresting a 10-year-old boy, adding that he had collected NIS 1,500 ($460) by 12 p.m. that day and that the money doesn’t go to the boy or his family.
The children normally don’t tell police who they’re working for and claim they got to the spot on their own, officer Marwan Falah told Channel 12, adding that when police crack down at one intersection, the activity simply moves to another.
The children work under harsh weather conditions and sleep in nearby olive groves, risking their lives without enjoying the fruits of their labor.
“Until there is closer cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, this shameful exploitation of children will continue to be part of daily life on Israeli roads,” the report concluded.