Hebron -

"There are no customers, the garages are empty and the future is scary," thus began the Palestinian Muhammad Awaisa, commenting on the decision to prevent the Palestinians of 1948 from repairing their cars in the occupied West Bank.

Awaisah adds - to Al-Jazeera Net, a garage owner who employs 5 specialists in repairing and changing car parts - that the effects of the decision issued by the occupation army were direct, "5 days ago, the number of customers decreased, and the garages no longer have yellow number cars," referring to the color of vehicle registration plates. The Palestinian interior, which bears Israeli numbers.

Occupation forces search cars in a Palestinian repair shop (communication sites)

3 years imprisonment

On November 27, the occupation army and police launched a search campaign in the village of "Nabi Elias" east of Qalqilya, which is located in an area under the control of the Palestinian Authority, in the northern West Bank.

The target of the campaign was the 1948 Palestinians who repaired their vehicles in Palestinian garages. The police seized 9 vehicles and summoned the owners for interrogation.

The occupation police said - in a statement, a copy of which was received by Al-Jazeera Net - that "according to the law, it is forbidden to repair Israeli vehicles in Palestinian garages."

She described the situation as "dangerous" and that entering the authority's territory is "prohibited", claiming that car maintenance in these garages is "not safe" in terms of work performance and spare parts installed in cars.

"The penalty for the crime of prohibiting repair is up to 3 years in prison," the police said.

Markets targeting 48 Palestinians

Awaisa Garage and dozens of auto parts repair and sales shops, and other stores, are located in a street that extends for several kilometers near the town of Al-Dhahiriya (south of the West Bank) and close to the Beersheba military checkpoint, which separates the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 from those occupied in 1948.

The movement of 48 Palestinians towards the West Bank increases to the point of overcrowding on official holidays, and on Saturdays every week, which is a day off in Israel.

Hundreds of residents of the Palestinian cities in the Negev, including Beersheba, Rahat, Hura, Lakiyah and others, visit daily Al-Dhahiriya for the purpose of shopping, repairing their cars, or family visits, due to the existence of intermarriage and lineage between the two parts of the homeland.

Garages in Al-Dhahiriya (south of Hebron) after the occupation prevented 48 Palestinians from repairing their cars in the West Bank (Al-Jazeera)

competitive prices

Awaisah, 34, says that he buys cars damaged in traffic accidents from Israeli insurance companies, takes advantage of their intact parts, and sells them to customers at prices that are about 80% less than their price in Israel.

The owner of the garage - a father of 6 children - says that the Israeli decision to pursue car owners "kills the profession, its workers and their families."

And he calls on everyone who can pressure the occupation to push it to back down from the decision, warning of unemployment that awaits thousands of workers in this profession.

Awaisa responds to the occupation police's justification that the PA's lands are unsafe, saying, "For decades, we have been in this profession, and not a single dangerous case has been recorded. With regard to spare parts, we sell the goods to the customer at a price lower than that of the 48 lands."

"All Palestinian garages have professionals and experts licensed and supervised by the Palestinian Authority," he said, speaking from his empty garage while exchanging conversations with his employees, unlike usual.

He adds that he has been working in his profession for 18 years, and he does not rule out that the purpose of the decision is to put economic pressure on the Palestinians on the one hand, and to satisfy the Israeli owners of car parts companies and garages.

Awaisah, the Al-Jazeera Net correspondent, showed correspondence via WhatsApp with his clients from the Palestinians of 48, in which they apologize for not attending, expressing their fear of being pursued or photographing their cars in Palestinian garages, and others decided to take their cars before completing their repairs.

Experience and skill

For his part, Ali Asher, the owner of 4 shops related to washing, maintaining and repairing cars, says that he is very worried about his future and the future of his four children who work with him.

He added, "We depend 95% on the Palestinians of 1948, and 4 days ago, we received only a few of them."

He says that his shop is one of the hundreds of shops and workshops that have opened in recent years on a street frequented by 48 Palestinians.

As for West Bank customers as an alternative, he says, "The shops in this area are designated for 1948 Palestinians, and they are better in terms of financial situation and cash payment. As for West Bank customers, they have enough options in other areas, and they visit garages only in cases of necessity."

As for Talal Samamra, the owner of a car paint shop, he found room to sit in front of his shop, as he has one car in the final stages before delivery, and he does not wait for new customers.

He told Al-Jazeera Net, "We work according to the customer's request. We have experts, skilled people, and a better price than the cities of the Palestinian interior, so the Palestinians of 48 prefer to repair their cars here."

Used car parts in one of Al-Dhahiriya garages in the south of the West Bank (Al-Jazeera)

Cut off communication

On the other hand, the citizen Diab Abu Madighem, who comes from the city of Rahat in the Negev, within the 48 territories, expresses real concern about the consequences of the Israeli police decision.

He says that many people like him refrained from entering their cars in the West Bank garages.

And the young man added, "Here we can easily find the car parts that we want for all companies, and if the price of the piece inside, for example, is 250 shekels, we find it here for 50 shekels" (one dollar = 3.4 shekels).

Abu Madighem also says that there are experts and professionals in the garages in the West Bank who master their work in record time, in exchange for waiting for weeks inside.

The citizen sees in the Israeli decision nothing but an "attempt to restrict the movement and movement of the Palestinians of 48 and their ties to the Palestinians of the West Bank," without ruling out further restrictions on shopping in the West Bank in the future.

No recent statistics are available on the car repair profession and the number of workers in it, but data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics - published in 2017 - indicated that there are 5,281 vehicle maintenance and repair facilities in the West Bank, with about 11,035 employees of both sexes.

Statistics also indicated that there are 1,385 establishments selling spare parts and accessories for vehicles, and the number of employees in them is 2,881.