Eyeing Quiet, Israel Expands Work Permits for Gazans

Defense officials believe that the easing of restrictions were a decisive factor in Hamas' restraint in the most recent round of fighting between Israel and the Islamic Jihad

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Palestinian workers enter Israel after crossing from Gaza on the Israeli side of Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian workers enter Israel after crossing from Gaza on the Israeli side of Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.Credit: Oded Balilty /AP
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The Israeli Defense Ministry announced on Friday that it has approved 1,500 additional work permits for Palestinians in Gaza, following a temporary freeze in light of the recent military operation on the Strip.

The decision made by Defense Minister Benny Gantz will mean that a total of 15,500 Palestinians will be able to leave the Gaza Strip to work in Israel, with the new policy set to take effect on Sunday, August 21.

Defense officials added that the additional work permits are contingent on maintaining the relative calm – meaning, no additional rocket fire from the Gaza Strip to Israel.

According to a military source, Israel is considering approving 4,500 more work permits for Gazans, which would bring the total number to 20,000.

Israel has maintained a full blockade of Gaza since Hamas consolidated its control of the Strip in 2007, tightening restrictions intermittently based on its ongoing conflict with militant groups.

However, defense officials have recently changed tack, believing that easing the humanitarian situation in the besieged enclave can serve its security interests. In the escalation this month, Israel's security establishment believe that Hamas refrained from joining Islamic Jihad in the recent conflict with Israel so that work permits and the movement of goods would not be compromised.

Although the Gaza Strip faces some of the worst economic conditions in the world, the situation has improved in the last couple of years. Exports of goods from Gaza to the West Bank via the Kerem Shalom crossing, for example, rose by 27.7 percent, and 97.3 percent in exports of goods to Israel.

Meanwhile, the number of people passing from Gaza to Israel, and in the other direction, rose by 311 percent. While 122,400 people passed through the Erez crossing in 2020, this figure climbed to 163,000 in 2021. Additionally, an estimated total of 672,000 people are expected to pass through the crossing in 2022.

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