The burning sun lefts its own Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfinger printsÃ¢â‚¬Â on the face of Khalil Ibrahim, 11 years old, from al-Lubban al-Sharqiyya, near Nablus, while he walks between the cars at ZaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢tara checkpoint, trying to sell coffee, while the people wait to be inspected on the checkpoint.
It was nearly 9:15am, the temperature was very high, but Khalil was moving between the cars, very active and fast, carrying his big coffee pot.
The residents waiting at the checkpoint were watching him, and his movements, until an Israeli car arrived and suddenly parked there.
A group of armed settlers parked their car near the child, and started harassing him and the residents on the checkpoint, while the soldiers did not even attempt to stop them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have 16 family members, my father is married to two women, and am the son of the second women, my father is very sick now, he cannot work anymore, so I had to start selling drinks on the checkpoint, my father helps too when he can, but settlers and soldiers do not leave us aloneÃ¢â‚¬Â, the child said.
Khalil added that he faces several problems during his work; the cold winter weather, the extreme summer sun, and above all the repeated attacks carried out by the setters against him and the residents.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I make something like 30 Shekels a day (approximately 6$), I do it every summer vacation when school is off, an return back in the evening, I face daily difficulties with the soldiers, forcing me to move away, or even making fun of me, but the most dangerous issue is the settlers, always armed, always speeding, and always ready to shootÃ¢â‚¬Â, Khalil added.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have to work, I have to support my brothers and sisters, the economical condition of our family, as well as dozens of families in out village, is very bad, people canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t find work anymore, the army closed the areas, I sell drinks and am proud because I have high grades at school too, last year I received 92%, I dream that one day I will finish school and become a university student and graduate, I want to help my father and my familyÃ¢â‚¬Â
The family of Khalil lost their land, which was their only source of livelihood, after the army annexed it for settlement construction.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Am not the only child her, there are dozens of children here, we are al facing the same conditions, and have to go through the same suffering, the army took our lands, surrounded us with settlements, and left us without anythingÃ¢â‚¬Â, Khalil added.
Rawiya al-Taybeh, a psychologist working with the Gaza Mental Health Program, said that poverty is the main reason which pushes the children to work in the streets.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Unemployment rates arrived to 50%, adults are not having job opportunities, the children are working like adults, selling in the streets, jumping between the cars, soldiers and settlers, hoping that they will be able to sell anything and get some moneyÃ¢â‚¬Â, Rawiya added.
Also, Rawiya reported that there are several factors forcing the children to work in the streets, some are political, others are social and economical.
Daoud BarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢awy, member of the International Movement for defending the Children, said that the problem of child labor in the Palestinian territories is directly associated with the political conditions.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whenever the army intensifies closures, and blocks the workers from reaching their work, their workshops, child labor phenomenon increases, especially after the fathers become unable to workÃ¢â‚¬Â,Ã‚Â BarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢awy added.
According to statistics collect by the Palestinian Census Bureau, the number of child laborers in the Palestinian territories arrived to 40300, which represents 3.1% of the Palestinian children.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are 30900 children working in the West Bank, and 9400 in the Gaza StripÃ¢â‚¬Â, latest studies carried out the by bureau revealed.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Apparently it isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t enough for the settlers to annex the lands from their Palestinian owners, in order to construct and expand their settlements; they also want to control the streets, and the lives of the people.
Recently, extremist settlers intensified their attacks against the Palestinian residents, their lands, and properties, most of the attacks were carried out in Hebron, Tulkarem and Nablus in the West Bank, and al-Mawassi area in the Gaza strip.
By, Ameen abu Warda, PNN