Israel allows in Gaza workers in bid to ease tensions
Asharq Al-Awsat 1/10/19
Israel is quietly allowing thousands of Palestinians to enter from the Gaza Strip to conduct business and work menial jobs, apparently as part of understandings with the Hamas movement aimed at preventing a fourth war in the blockaded territory.
Israel effectively revoked thousands of work permits when it imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. The blockade, along with three wars between Hamas and Israel, has devastated the economy in Gaza, where unemployment is over 50 percent. In recent months, Israel has quietly provided some relief as part of an unofficial, Egyptian-brokered truce with Hamas, in exchange for reduced rocket fire from the territory and the scaling back of weekly protests along the border. It has allowed Qatar to deliver millions of dollars in cash to allow Hamas to pay its civil servants and has allowed the United Nations to step up aid efforts.
Now it appears Israel has expanded a program in which it had long provided hundreds of permits to business owners to travel to Israel and the West Bank for commerce, reported The Associated Press. Palestinian officials say it is now providing some 5,000 so-called merchant permits and awarding them to Palestinians working as laborers in construction, agriculture and manufacturing. The Israeli military body that administers civilian affairs in Gaza did not respond to AP requests for comment. Hamas officials also declined to comment.View all →