Israel raised the quota of work permits for Gaza Palestinians to 14,000 on Thursday, expanding a policy that defense officials view as a means of maintaining quiet on the country’s southern front.
An additional 2,000 permits were added to the quota, according to Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, widely known by its acronym COGAT.
The Defense Ministry has signed off on a tentative plan to raise the number of Gaza permits to 20,000, a dramatic and unprecedented increase. At the end of 2021, just 5,000 Palestinians 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 said in a statement.
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.
The Gaza Strip 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 in Times of Israel sister site Zman Yisrael.