Al Bandak Stone, one of the oldest factories in Palestine, established in 1967, has been, like all Palestinian economic establishments, routinely targeted by Occupation forces in a continuing attempt to close down and destroy the factory. Al Bandak Stone has faced numerous assaults by Occupation forces over the last years, the most severe occurring during the invasion of Bethlehem in 2002. While the Occupation forces bombarded the nearby Aida Refugee Camp, they also targeted the factory destroying the ceiling and paralyzing one whole section of the facility. In another instance, an expensive stone processing machine was completely destroyed when it suffered a direct hit by an Occupation bomb.



Moreover, the closure imposed by the Occupation forces on Bethlehem has severely impacted the factory. Issam Al Bandak, owner of the factory says that the closure of the area near Rachel’s Tomb has been a big problem for the factory. The Factory can no longer market its products effectively. In previous years the stone products produced by Al Bandak Stone were sold in the West Bank, Gaza, inside the green line, as well as in Jordan. The financial losses accrued over the last few years amount to more than 700,000 NIS. The factory used to employ more than 60 workers, where now there are no more than 12. Where the factory used to function 24 hours a day, it is now only able to sustain 5 to 6 hours of work a day.



Added to this hardship, the Apartheid Wall is being constructed only a few meters from the doors of the factory. Occupation forces and Wall guards continually harass the workers as they come and go from their jobs. Al Bandak says that most of his workers live in Bethlehem, and on their way to the factory they risk being held for hours by the Occupation soldiers, who in several instances have confiscated money from the workers, in addition to humiliating the men, only steps away from their work.



Issam Al Bandak says that the area where his factory is located has turned into a political, economical, and security disaster for the Palestinians. The factory itself is now threatened with demolition, or closure due to it’s proximity to the Apartheid Wall, and the further stranglehold that it will place on the area.



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