Palestinians say Israeli soldiers manning West Bank checkpoints are taking out their frustration about the results of the recent Palestinian Legislative Council elections on Palestinians as a whole and workers inside Israel in general, insulting and abusing those wanting to cross.

Witnesses at several checkpoints around Qalqilia say Israeli soldiers verbally harass workers with threats such as, “We are not going to let you enter Israel, go let Hamas feed you.”

Abu Yusef, a merchant who brings second-hand furniture into the West Bank from Israel, said such harassment now takes place frequently. Abu Yusef says in the past, Israeli soldiers used to tell the workers to “go let Arafat feed you, not us in Israel”, but now the message has changed and workers are being told, “Let Hamas feed you.”

However, Palestinians says Israeli harassment in the post-election period has not been strictly verbal. Upon arresting Palestinian workers who do not have the permits required to work inside Israel, Israeli soldiers have become increasingly violent, frequently beating the laborers. Palestinians who are arrested are transported to military centers and are often forced to pay large fines.

Mrs. Zarifya from Qalqilia says she has experienced these restrictions and fines first-hand.

Although Mrs. Zarifya has been arrested several times in the past, she was usually allowed to work inside Israel after a review of her security file. Two days ago, however, she was arrested and fined for attempting to cross into Israel without the proper permit.