Despite West Bank tensions, Israel announces 1,500 new work permits for Gazans

Defense Ministry says latest hike to come into effect after Rosh Hashanah, brings work and trade permits to a total of 17,000; quota planned to be raised up to 20,000

Elisha Ben Kimon|
Despite simmering tensions throughout the West Bank, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Thursday an increase in work and trade permit quotas for Gaza Strip Palestinians by 1,500 starting next week, after Rosh Hashanah.
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  • According to the Defense Ministry, this raises the number of permits to a total of 17,000, but the increase in permits will be carried out in accordance with a situation assessment after the holiday and on the condition that peace is maintained across the southern border. The ministry plans to hike the quota up to 20,000.
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    מחסום ארז
    מחסום ארז
    Palestinian workers entering Israel through Gaza's Erez crossing
    (Photo: Nadav Eves)
    COGAT, the Israeli defense body in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs, has taken precedential steps on the subject in the past year.
    Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar also hinted last week to the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, that promoting incitement against Israel will lead to adversarial measures from Jerusalem. "Either words or workers," he said.
    A Palestinian laborer in the Gaza Strip earns about NIS 60 ($17) per day as the Palestinian enclave grapples with a 50% unemployment rate. However, the same worker would earn NIS 400 a day working in Israel ($115).
    Along with bringing in Gazan workers and increasing quotas for workers from the West Bank, Palestinians receive their wages online and the Israeli defense establishment has improved the accessibility of work permits digitally.
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    הצד הפלסטיני של מעבר ארז
    הצד הפלסטיני של מעבר ארז
    Erez crossing on the Palestinian side
    (Photo: AFP)
    The permit policy as a tool to tamper down terrorism was successfully utilized by Israel during last month’s flareup in Gaza against Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and defense officials believe this was one of the reasons Gaza-rulers Hamas opted to stay out of the fighting.
    "At the end of the day, Hamas has to provide an economic horizon [to its people]," a security official told Ynet.
    "Furthermore, it will have to explain to workers who were earning thousands of shekels in Israel why they are forced to give it up because of missiles or terrorism. Hamas in this regard is different from Palestinian Islamic Jihad which does not have any responsibility over Gaza’s residents. It is a lever created by the system."
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