The Israeli government sent thousands of Palestinians back to the Gaza Strip this Friday (3), continuing the repression against workers from the territory who had previously received permission to work in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Large numbers of workers returned via the Kerem Shalom crossing, east of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The area has been bombarded by Israeli jets and tanks for weeks, since the October 7 attack on southern Israel by gunmen from the Hamas group.
“We used to serve them, work for them in homes, restaurants and markets, in exchange for the lowest wages, and despite that, now we have been humiliated,” said Jamal Ismail, a worker at the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza.
However, the system was scrapped, with Israel reversing its previous policy of offering economic incentives. Instead, it mounted an air and ground offensive to eradicate the militant Hamas movement, which controls Gaza.
“Israel is cutting off all contact with Gaza. There will be no more Palestinian workers from Gaza,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. “Gaza workers who were in Israel on the day the war began will be returned to Gaza.”
Since then, Israel has bombarded the coastal enclave nonstop 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 around 2.3 million people have been displaced.
It is not known for sure how many Gazans were in Israel on October 7, when Hamas snipers broke through the fenced border and invaded southern communities, killing 1,400 people and taking 240 into captivity in Gaza.
A senior Palestinian Authority official said 4,950 Gazans have fled Israel for the West Bank and around 5,000 are believed to have been detained by Israel.
“Nobody knows what’s going on,” said Ghazal Ghazal, 50, who worked at a candy factory in Tel Aviv. He fled to the West Bank last month after hearing from colleagues that Israeli authorities were making arrests.
Palestinians have limited autonomy in the areas they live in the West Bank, which is under Israeli military occupation.
For those remaining in the West Bank, spotty phone and internet connections mean news from home has been sporadic as Israeli bombardment continues.
Nidal Abu Jidian, a father of three who worked as a road paver in Israel before seeking refuge in a community center in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said he follows the news on his phone to try to find out what his situation is like. family.
“I was on the phone with my uncle. It was bombed while I was talking to him. I was checking on him and my children and he was killed. I heard the attack. The phone lost signal.”
(Additional reporting by Henriette Chacar)
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