GAZA (Reuters) – Israel returned thousands of Palestinians to the besieged Gaza Strip on Friday as part of a crackdown on laborers and laborers from the enclave who had previously obtained permits to work in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Large numbers of workers returned through the Kerem Shalom crossing, east of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, which has been bombed by Israeli planes and tanks for weeks since the October 7 attack on southwestern Israel by militants from the Hamas movement ruling the Strip. .
Jamal Ismail, a worker from the Maghazi refugee camp in the center of the country, said, “We used to serve them and work for them in homes, restaurants, and markets for the lowest wages, and yet we are now humiliated.” Gaza.
Israel previously issued more than 18,000 permits allowing Gazans to cross into Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank to work in sectors such as agriculture or construction that typically paid salaries up to ten times what a worker could earn in the besieged Gaza Strip.
However, this system was canceled after Israel reversed its previous policy of providing economic incentives for stability and instead launched a joint air and ground offensive to eliminate the Hamas militant group that controls Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement, “Israel is cutting off all contacts with Gaza. There will be no more Palestinian workers from Gaza.” “Those workers from Gaza who were in Israel on the day the war broke out will be returned to Gaza.”
Since then, Israel has bombed the coastal Palestinian enclave non-stop and launched a ground offensive, killing more than 9,200 Palestinians, nearly half of them children, according to Gaza health authorities. UN officials say more than 1.4 million of Gaza’s population of about 2.3 million have been displaced.
It is unclear how many Gazans there were in Israel on October 7, when Hamas militants stormed the fenced border and stormed southern communities, killing 1,400 people and capturing 240 others in Gaza.
However, a senior Palestinian Authority official said that 4,950 Gazans had fled Israel to the West Bank, and Israel was believed to have detained about 5,000 people.
“No one knows what is happening,” said Ghazal Ghazal, 50, who worked in a sweets factory in Tel Aviv before fleeing to the West Bank last month, after hearing from her colleagues that Israeli authorities were making arrests.
Palestinians enjoy limited self-rule in the areas where they live in the West Bank, which is under Israeli military occupation.
For those who remained in the West Bank, poor internet and phone connections meant that news from home became sporadic as Israeli bombing continued.
Nidal Abu Jidyan, a father of three children who worked as a road pavement in Israel before taking refuge in a community center in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said that he follows the news on his phone to try to find out about his family’s condition.
“I was talking on the phone with my uncle. He was bombed while I was talking to him. I was checking on him and my children and he was killed. I heard the attack, and the phone went off.”
Additional reporting by Henriette Shukr in Ramallah – Prepared by Mohammed for the Arab Bulletin Editing by Jason Neely, Angus MacSwan and Mark Heinrich
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