Israel will return residents of the Gaza Strip who work in the country to the Palestinian territory, the Israeli Security Bureau announced on Thursday (2), adding that it would also cut off contacts with the region.
Before the Hamas terrorist attacks and kidnappings on October 7, around 18,000 residents of the Gaza Strip were allowed to enter Israel and work, where they could earn much more.
“Israel cuts all contacts with Gaza. There will be no more Palestinian workers. Workers who were in Israel on the day the war broke out will be sent back to the Gaza Strip,” the government press service said.
The statement did not specify how or when workers will return to what is now an active war zone, bombed hundreds of times a day.
The cabinet also said it would deduct funds intended for the Gaza Strip, including funds from the Palestinian Authority – a separate government body with limited autonomy in the West Bank – that would be allocated to the territory.
In recent years, Israel began issuing thousands of work permits to Gazans to enter Israel, as part of an economic incentive strategy that Israeli officials hoped would encourage residents of the enclave to distance itself from Hamas.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank said CNN last month, obtaining a work permit for Israel allowed them to become heads of household.
Many are the only members of their family with a job, and the salaries they earn in Israel are often higher than anything they could earn where they live.
Following Hamas terrorist attacks on Israeli soil, which killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) closed all access to the enclave and many Gazans working in Israel were been trapped.
“I always wanted this license because the situation in Gaza is very serious. The financial situation, the debt…the economy sucks. There are no job opportunities,” he said. Ismail Abd Almagid THE CNN last month, adding that he was unemployed until he got the license.
Unemployment levels there are among the highest in the world, with almost half of the population out of work, according to 2022 UN data. More than 80% of the population lives in poverty.
“For at least fifteen years, the socio-economic situation in Gaza has been in steady decline,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in August. ).
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For almost 17 years, Gaza was almost completely isolated from the rest of the world, with severe restrictions on the movement of goods and people.
The 140 square kilometer territory is governed by Hamas but blocked by Israel and Egypt since 2007 and relies heavily on imported fuel and electricity to run all its services.
In response to Hamas terrorist attacks, Israel imposed a “total siege” on the Gaza Strip and prevented the entry of all food, water, medicine and fuel, worsening the humanitarian crisis.
Israeli airstrikes killed more than 9,000 people, half of them children, and injured around 22,000, according to data released Thursday by the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah, based on sources located in in territory controlled by Hamas.
Humanitarian organizations have described catastrophic conditions in which civil order is beginning to collapse and have made increasingly urgent calls for a ceasefire to allow desperately needed aid to arrive in Gaza.
The Commissioner General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarinideclared on Wednesday, upon his return from Gaza, that “the scale of the tragedy is unprecedented”.
“The levels of distress and unsanitary living conditions were beyond belief,” he said. “Everyone was just asking for water and food.”