Israel delivered a message to Hamas on Tuesday via United Nations envoy Tor Wennesland, who entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez Crossing in an effort to facilitate calm. The message stipulated that once the violent demonstrations near the border fence cease and incendiary balloon launches toward Israel ends, the crossing will resume operations for the movement of laborers.
According to the message, the level of economic and civil development in the Gaza Strip is directly linked to the level of the stability of Israel's security. Israeli sources have stated that there are no current plans to improve the well-being of the population in Gaza, while also emphasizing that Gaza is considered an Israeli interest. Simultaneously, announcements from the Gaza Strip indicate preparations for protests at multiple locations along the fence, scheduled to begin on Tuesday afternoon.
About a week ago, the decision to close the crossing was implemented in response to rioting on the border, initiated as an attempt to revive weekly unrest that had ceased three years ago. The closure of the crossing has exerted significant pressure on the Gaza Strip, as each day that 18,500 Gazan workers are unable to commute to their jobs in Israel results in a staggering economic loss of over $2.6 million for Gaza.
To put this into perspective, the entire monthly Qatari grant to Gaza amounts to $30 million (approximately 114 million shekels), which is nearly equivalent to the income generated by these workers. Moreover, the grant is now at risk due to strained relations between Hamas and Qatar, leading Qatar to urge the leadership in the coastal strip to seek alternative economic solutions.
Israeli sources revealed that Hamas has presented a new demand, advocating for a rise in the laborer quota by 1,500 individuals, which would allow for a daily entry of 20,000 Gazan laborers into Israel. Currently, Israel has not consented to this request. However, Israeli officials have clarified that if the border remains peaceful, the request will be carefully considered. It is important to note that such a decision necessitates the approval of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The protests' prime objective is to secure more economic assistance by capitalizing on what the Gazan rioters perceive as Israeli vulnerability. These protests, which have been ongoing for about a week, involve various activities such as the deployment of explosives and gunfire, all with the support and encouragement of Hamas.
The closure of the crossing has had a significant impact on the fish industry in the Gaza Strip, which relies on the crossing for exporting goods. The owner of a fish pond in Gaza said that approximately 40 tons of fish are transported through the crossing each month. As a result of the closure, 200 workers are currently unable to work and receive their salaries, affecting not only their livelihood but also their families and children. The Gaza Ministry of Agriculture has estimated that the agriculture and fish industries are experiencing losses of around $260,000 per day due to the closure.
Additionally, on Tuesday morning, there were instances of incendiary balloons being launched toward the surrounding area. Furthermore, on Monday night there was renewed rioting along the fence, and the Israel Defense Forces carried out an attack on a Hamas military position using a remotely operated aircraft shortly before Yom Kippur. According to the IDF, a terrorist fired at their forces near the targeted position, prompting the soldiers to retaliate and successfully neutralize the threat.
Moreover, on Monday just minutes after the end of Yom Kippur, the IDF responded to the incendiary balloons sent into Israeli territory by launching attacks on two Hamas military positions within the Gaza Strip. Following these incidents, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that six individuals were injured during the riots, allegedly from gunfire by Israeli troops.