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Gantz said considering more Israeli work permits for Gazans

Defense minister reportedly weighing proposal to allow several thousand additional workers into country, citing pre-coronavirus plans to raise number from 7,000 to 10,000

Defense Minister Benny Gantz addresses the media in Jerusalem on May 31, 2021. (Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz addresses the media in Jerusalem on May 31, 2021. (Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is considering raising the number of Gazans allowed to work in Israel by several thousand, according to a new report, a month after Israel announced it would reissue 7,000 Israeli work permits for Gazans following a year-and-a-half freeze sparked by the coronavirus.

Gantz has raised the proposal in discussions in recent days, citing pre-coronavirus plans to increase the number to 10,000, Channel 12 news reported Sunday night.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians lined up outside chambers of commerce across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday last week, hoping to get permits to work inside Israel after rumors circulated that more would be issued to residents of the territory ruled by the Hamas terror group.

An Israeli security official said last week that while authorities decided to allow in 7,000 workers in September, they were only able to issue 4,500 permits.

They are now taking applications for the remaining 2,500, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The permits were for businesspeople, rather than day laborers.

Palestinian men gather to apply for work permits in Israel, at Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 6, 2021. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)

Gaza’s more than 2 million Palestinian residents have lived under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in the coastal region in 2007. Israel says the closures are needed to contain the terror group sworn to its destruction, and to prevent it from importing weaponry and materials to manufacture arms and attack tunnels.

Israel and Hamas have fought four wars since 2008, the most recent in May of this year. Hamas has demanded the easing of the blockade as part of an informal ceasefire brokered by Egypt. Israel has lifted some restrictions since the end of the 11-day war while warning that any broader easing depends on continued calm.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank also work in Israel, where wages are much higher, mainly in construction and agriculture.

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