Israel repatriated thousands of Palestinians to the besieged Gaza Strip on Friday, as part of an ongoing crackdown on workers and laborers from the territory who had previously held permits to work in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Many of these workers returned via the Kerem Shalom crossing, located to the east of the Rafah crossing, situated between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. This move came in the aftermath of Israeli airstrikes and military actions following the October 7 attack in southwestern Israel by gunmen affiliated with the ruling Hamas group in the territory.
Jamal Ismail, a worker from the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, expressed that they used to serve and work in houses, restaurants, and markets for the lowest wages, and despite their efforts, they have now experienced humiliation, as conveyed to Reuters.
Prior to the commencement of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Israel had issued work permits to approximately 18,500 Gazans, as reported by COGAT, the Israeli defense organization responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs. These jobs typically offered salaries that were up to 10 times what a worker could earn in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
COGAT did not respond immediately to a request for information regarding the number of Gazans working inside Israel at the time of the attack on October 7, as reported by Israeli officials.
The preceding system has been abandoned due to Israel’s change in policy, where they have now opted for a combination of air and ground operations to eradicate the militant Hamas movement that controls Gaza, rather than offering economic incentives to promote stability.
According to a statement issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, Israel is discontinuing all contact with Gaza, including the employment of Palestinian workers from Gaza. Those workers from Gaza who were in Israel at the commencement of the conflict will be returned to Gaza.