Now it’s clear: this is a national plague. In the first two months of 2022, 13 workers were killed in work accidents, including nine construction workers. 2021 ended with 69 people killed in work accidents, 2.5 times the OECD average.

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However, the national plague is not just the deaths of construction workers, but the ever-increasing cheapness of human life. But what can one expect from a government that offers to “contain the dead” but at the same time leaves the economy open during a pandemic?

Unfortunately for the workers, the difference between the coronavirus and the plague of work accidents is that, in the war against the coronavirus, there is an (economic) interest in fighting it. No one, it seems, has an interest in confronting the plague of construction workers deaths.

Construction workers who have died since the begining of 2022 (from top left): Jamil Khatib, Razi Abu Sabtan, Ahmad Ziad Asiad, Sayed Qaddah, Adel Beirut, and Epho Dirawi. (Photos: Private albums)

When you read the names, you can guess why: Jamil Khatib of Jenin was killed on Thursday when he fell from the 6th floor of a construction site in Nazareth; Sayed Qaddah was killed on Sunday, February 13, 2022, while working on the renovation of the ‘Shvalim’ school in Pardes Hanna. He was 40 when he died, the father of six children. One of his children worked with him at the site and witnessed the disaster; Ahmad Ziad Asiad (20) and Razi Abu Sabtan (26) from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of At-Tur were killed on February 11, 2022, when they fell from the 42nd floor of the Park Bavli project in Tel Aviv.

And the list continues: Ala al-Khalis (24), a resident of Yatta, a Palestinian city in the Hebron Governorate; Lu Tsunahwa (30) a Chinese citizen; Adel Beirut (50), a resident of the village of Qusra near Nablus; Wang Ze (40) a Chinese citizen; Chen Chenzhong (40) a Chinese citizen.

The issue is clear: the dead workers are minorities – Arabs, most of them not Israeli citizens, and Chinese – foreign workers. Therefore, apparently, Israel “contains their deaths.”

But don’t be confused, the cheapening of the values of human life is evident in all areas of life: the unpreparedness for earthquakes; the abandonment of tenants in collapsed buildings; the state’s reaction to nearly 10,000 deaths from COVID-19.

There are plenty of plans to eradicate building accidents. Just two weeks ago, the Group for the Fight against Building and Industrial Accidents submitted a detailed letter to the Minister of Economy regarding the steps to be taken: increasing enforcement, tightening standards, investigating accidents and punishing the culprits. But all of these steps require a change of priorities. So far, no one in the “Change Government” seems to have an interest in that. This is how it is when one sanctifies the “free market.”

This article was translated from Hebrew by Benji Sharp.