IDF illegally employing Palestinians to build bomb shelter, mayor claims

Defense Ministry denies the accusation, saying that factory near Otniel is owned by Israelis and is a legal firm.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The head of the South Hebron Hills Regional Council charged that Palestinians are illegally building bomb shelters for the IDF near the village of Otniel, and made an unlawful land grab to set up a factory, Israel National News reported Monday.

“This is ridiculous,” said Eliram Azoulay. “An illegal factory is taking over Area C,” where Israel has full control in Judea and Samaria.

According to Azoulay, “They have no permit there for an illegally-built factory. It’s not a place that has been approved for construction and they don’t have a building permit.”

The work to set up the factory began after the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7, 2023, with a large area being excavated close to the settlement.

The firm has already begun churning out portable shelters that are being sent to army bases.

Azoulay noted that the trucks that go in and out of the factory area have signs that state they are a “Ministry of Defense supplier.” This allows them entry to Area B, which is under Palestinian civil control but Israeli security control.

Azoulay hinted to the security danger this could entail.

Some of the factory’s trucks were seen entering the nearby Arab village of Karameh, “where it was reported in September that a Hamas terrorist unit was planning to carry out an attack in the immediate future and had been arrested by the Shin Bet,” he said.

“All this is happening during wartime,” the Council head added. “It’s ridiculous that while the enemy is firing at us, he is the one who is manufacturing our means of protection and making a living from the war that he himself has created.”

“In addition,” he noted, “statistics say that 80% of Palestinians support the Simchat Torah massacre,” referring to the day Hamas and other terrorists invaded Gazan envelope communities, slaughtering 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages.

The government has denied Azoulay’s accusation.

“The Ministry of Defense only manufactures shelters in Israeli factories run by recognized contractors, who are listed as ministry suppliers and were chosen through the contractual procedure by law,” the ministry said in a statement. “The claims presented are not known to us.”

The news website cited an IDF official who said that the owners are Israelis who have permission to rent the land.

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“They employ Palestinian and Israeli Arab workers, the shelters are authorized and the shipping documents are Israeli,” said the source.

Azoulay is not convinced, and wants the issue thoroughly investigated, noting that this was not the only such plant.

“Last week we found out that there is another illegal Palestinian factory at the entrance to Tarqumiya,” he said, “which is doing the same thing, manufacturing bomb shelters for the Defense Ministry.”

“My goal,” said the Council head, ”is for the settlements in the Hebron hills to be protected, and that nobody plays a double game in order to save money or grant Palestinians a livelihood.”