Yahya El Mughrabi, a Palestinian resident of the territories, worked for an Israeli spice factory in Jericho as a machinist. On August 1, 2013, Yahya injured his fingers in a workplace accident. The employer did not follow regulations, instead he sent Yahya, independently, to the hospital in Jericho for medical attention. Yahya was seen by a doctor who told him that there was no problem and sent him home without treatment. Two days later Yahya’s condition worsened; he lost control of two fingers. He needed intensive medical care.

Work accident regulations for Israeli companies require that employers complete Form 250 to report an accident so that the injured worker can receive medical attention at a hospital in Israel. Yahya asked his employer for the form; however, even though there was no doubt that the injury took place at work, his employer refused. Only when Yahya threatened that he would go to the police did his employer give him the required form – along with his immediate termination papers.

Yahya submitted the relevant forms to the Palestinian Ministry of Labor and waited. After a month during which he received no medical treatment, and after he repeatedly returned to the ministry offices, it became clear to him that nothing was being done. His condition deteriorated during the period of time in which he was prevented from receiving medical care. And, because he could not use his hand, he could not earn the funds to pay for the special medical care he needed at his own expense.

Yahya came to Kav LaOved on October 26, 2013 and we began to guide him through the steps for recognition by the National Insurance Institute (NII). Two month after his injury he was finally sent for x-rays and seen by specialists.

The NII replied positively to his request. However, it was discovered that Yahya received recognition for the right to treatment of his injury on December 10, 2013, but it took until February 12, 2014, after a two month wait and repeated visits to the NII office, to finally get recognition of the injury as a workplace accident which was required in order to begin medical treatment.

Yahya won the right to start treatment for his injury four and one half months after the accident. Receiving no treatment for such a long period of time can lead to the deterioration of the medical condition. Today, Yahya continues the process of rehabilitation at the Clalit Health Services in Jerusalem. His story illustrates the many difficulties that are encountered by a worker whose only request is for recognition of the right to received medical attention for a workplace injury, starting with an employer who would not cooperate and who fired him because he requested treatment and ending with the long, slow, and complicated bureaucratic process for recognition for his workplace injury by the Palestinian Authority and the National Insurance Institute.

By Taghrid Shbeta, fieldworker in the Tulkarem Region

Originally published in Hebrew on April 3, 2014

Translation: Sharon Kerpel