Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have moved from the West Bank to the interior of Israel throughout the State's history, according to a report by Haaretz. These immigrants include Palestinians who are at risk in various ways in the West Bank who have entered Israel both legally and illegally, especially since the signing of the Oslo Accords.
New research shows that a historical population exchange has been happening between the West Bank and the interior of Israel, both Jewish and Palestinian, with Israel's encouragement and money. Financial packages for collaborator's families reach into the millions of dollars on average.
During the early years of the State, there were hundreds of Arab agents in Israel, some of whom worked for the intelligence services of the settlements even before 1948. Lieut.-Col. Yair Ravid-Ravitz, former head of the northern sector in unit 504 for the recruitment of agents, told Haaretz about an unknown story of the settlement of Bedouin collaborators from Lebanon in the religious Moshav Ya'ara along the northern border.
Ravid-Ravitz told Haaretz, "the head of the family collaborated with Israel even before the establishment of the State, until he was killed by a Syrian intelligence agent in the early 50's and then his family was moved to Israel. Their descendants live in the yishuv and maintain an extraordinary relationship with the Jewish residents. Their youth learn in Jewish educational institutions and draft to the IDF. The head of the family's firstborn son was in the foundations of Israeli intelligence for many years, until he was also killed. His children and grandchildren walk in his footsteps."
After that, Israel worked with 150 Egyptian collaborators who were exposed during Israel's short rule over the Sinai after the Sinai Campaign. In the 60 years since then, these collaborators and their families have grown into hundreds of families. This is nothing compared to the recruitment of collaborators after the Six-Day War and the immigration of thousands of these collaborators to Israel since the Oslo Accords.
Research published in 1994 conducted by Yizhar Be'er with B'tzelem and Palestinian researcher Saleh Abd al-Jawad showed the ways that collaborators were recruited and how they operated during the Intifada. They brought testimonies on torture and interrogation of suspects and documented executions and other forms of punishment.
All together, during the First Intifada about 1,000 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel were killed by other Palestinians. In the past 15 years, under Mahmoud Abbas's government, the executions stopped.
Since the Oslo Accords the collaborators and their families, at risk Palestinians, and other groups have settled in Israel in unprecedented numbers.
Professor Menachem Hoffnung from the Political Science department of the Hebrew University has conducted research in the past few years on the payment of collaborators in Israel. He claims that we are in a historic process, telling Haaretz that "in January 1994, the government formally decided to establish an office for the rehabilitation of collaborators on the assumption that collaborators are in danger. After the disengagement from Gaza and Jericho to the PA, an operation began to move 1,400 collaborators to Israeli care. Every household received a rehabilitation package of, on average, $1 million." This was only the beginning.
"After the collaborators, a growing tide of threatened [Palestinians] arrived due to security threats," said Hoffnung. "These asked for sanctuary even though the Shin Bet claimed that they didn't recognize them as collaborators. For these people, they established the "Committee of the At-Risk" whose objective it was to establish if someone was actually at risk according to the criteria and, if so, what aid he was eligible for. Meanwhile, they received permission to live in Israel temporarily and, sometimes, even to work."
According to Hoffnung, in the past two years, accusers and Palestinian land brokers who work directly with the settlers, with no connection to the government, received permits to immigrate to Israel.
Hoffnung estimates that between 1949 to 2015, up to 6,000 households settled in Israel, each with about 6.8 children, meaning about 60,000 people. Hoffnung claims that the total amount of Palestinians who moved in reaches much higher, since other family members and parties came as well.
Additionally, there's a large population of Palestinians who came due to security threats and sometimes Palestinians who were threatened due to sexual orientation, blood feuds, fear due to romantic issues, and other such issues were also given temporary permits to enter Israel and live there.
Every person who comes with his immediate family draws in other family members as he manages to live in Israel, according to Hoffnung. When his family members come with a permit, they won't leave. When the children grow up, they're likely to marry people from the West Bank who would then join them in Israel.
The number of people that moved to the interior of Israel from the West Bank since 1967 is so high that it exceeds the number of people who settled in the West Bank from the interior of Israel.
Between 1994 to 2003, the state of Israel claims 130,000 Palestinians received resident status. These 130,000 were all young and at childbearing age, so after 15 to 25 years the amount doubled.
In the past 25 years, an average of one million shekels per year was spent on collaborators and their families, Hoffnung told Haaretz.
According to Hoffnung, when the collaborators enter Israel, they're pretty much here permanently. They learn the system, get a lawyer, and, because they worked for the security of the State, they pass through any obstacles.
Even though the threat to the lives of collaborators has grown since Mahmoud Abbas took power, the number of petitions to collaborate and move to Israel has risen. Essentially, Hoffnung told Haaretz, this has become a convenient way for Palestinians to migrate to Israel.
Collaborators who move to Arab villages in Israel often meet friction when they arrive. They're often provided with weapons for self defense and occasionally get involved in criminal activity and drug dealing. People see the parents as guilty, but not their children. In the past, according to Hoffnung, they wouldn't marry with collaborators. Nowadays, they do. "The taboo is broken," Hoffnung told Haaretz.
Hoffnung believes that a two-state solution would solve many of the migration issues since more economic opportunities and job opportunities would eliminate the main causes of migration.
Hoffnung believes that this growing process of migration is still reversible, but only if intense action is taken. "Hope is an illness which is hard to get rid of, so we will wait for the next government," he told Haaretz.
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