Israel on Wednesday unfroze a move to increase the number of work permits for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to 14,000, almost a week after a rocket was launched at southern Israel.
The military liaison to the Palestinians, widely known by its acronym COGAT, announced last Thursday that an additional 2,000 permits would be added to the quota. But the move was paused Saturday after terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket at the coastal city of Ashkelon.
COGAT said Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved allowing the move to go ahead, effective from Sunday, “on the condition that security calm is maintained in the area.”
The rocket fired over the weekend was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system; the Israel Defense Forces struck several Hamas sites in response.
The Defense Ministry has signed off on a tentative plan to eventually raise the number of Gaza permits to 20,000, a dramatic and unprecedented increase. In mid-2021, just 7,000 Palestinians from Gaza had permits to work or trade in Israel.
Defense officials say allowing more Gazans to work in Israel will pump much-needed income into the impoverished coastal enclave while encouraging stability.
“All the civilian steps toward Gaza are dependent on continued security stability over time. Whether to expand them or not will be determined accordingly,” COGAT had said last week.
Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip Mohammad al-Emadi, who regularly meets with both Israeli and Palestinian officials, told Gaza media in April that Israel had pledged to eventually raise the quota to 30,000 permits.
Gaza has been blockaded by both Israel and Egypt for over 15 years in an attempt to contain the enclave’s Hamas rulers. Israel says the tight restrictions on goods and people are necessary due to the terror group’s efforts to massively arm itself for attacks against the Jewish state.
Critics lament the blockade’s impact on ordinary Gazans, around 50 percent of whom are unemployed, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The sky-high poverty rates make employment in Israel a highly attractive option for those lucky enough to receive permits.
In Gaza, Palestinian workers can expect an average daily wage of about NIS 60 ($17.35). The few allowed to cross into Israel to work might get as much as NIS 400 ($115.66) per day, according to a report by The Times of Israel’s sister site Zman Yisrael.