Workers do not want to go home despite another Israel bombing

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 12:00am

An estimated 20,000 Chinese workers would remain in Israel despite a suicide bomb that killed one mainlander and wounded four, the second attack on Chinese in four months, their employers said yesterday.

Xu Hengyong, 38, from Pingtan in Fujian province, was killed and four others were injured, with another missing, after a double-suicide bombing near a coffee shop on Wednesday night in the southern part of Tel Aviv. In April, two Chinese were killed in a suicide bomb in a vegetable market in Jerusalem, the first Chinese casualties of the Palestinian uprising against Israel.

'In April, we lost two and this time we had one wounded,' said a manager of the Fujian International Company. 'But we have no plans to bring our people home. You withdraw people in a war and Israel is not in a state of war.

'The workers went there voluntarily and only want to come back after they have earned money. After April, we received many calls from people in other provinces who said that they would like to work in Israel. It is only those who are wounded that want to come back,' he said.

He said that, after April, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation stopped sending workers to Israel, while allowing those already in place to stay. Two weeks ago the ministry issued a notice saying that it was safe, despite scattered incidents, he said.

'The key issue is to improve the education of the workers and tell them to stay in safe places, like their work-site and where they live. The suicide bombers go to crowded places, like the target on Wednesday, which was popular with foreign workers, including Romanians and Turks,' he said.

A national meeting on sending labour to Israel was held in Tianjin yesterday.

A spokesman for the Xiamen International Co, which also has sent workers to Israel, said that although this week was the second time mainlanders had been hit, it had no plan to withdraw the workers. 'We are improving education about security to our workers,' he said.

As after the April attack, the mainland victims will be entitled to the same compensation as Israelis and other foreign nationals, provided that they entered the country legally.

'I have not heard of anyone leaving,' a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Beijing said.

Most Chinese workers in Israel work on construction sites.

'The target on Wednesday is known as a place where many foreign workers live and go in the evening,' the spokesman said. 'The terrorists knew that. They kill whoever they can kill. . . Terror is blind and there is nowhere to avoid it.'

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