NewsIsraelThousands of Palestinians apply for work permits in Israel

    Thousands of Palestinians apply for work permits in Israel

    Tens of thousands of Palestinians lined up outside chambers of commerce in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday in hopes of obtaining work permits in Israel, after rumors circulated that more would be issued to residents of the Hamas-ruled territory.

    Gaza’s more than 2 million Palestinians have suffered an Egyptian and Israeli blockade that has crippled the economy since the Islamic militia Hamas seized power from its rivals in 2007. Israel says it is necessary to contain the militia, but its detractors see it as a form of collective punishment.

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    An Israeli security official said it was decided to allow 7,000 traders to enter in September, but only 4,500 permits were issued. They are now accepting applications for the remaining 2,500, the officer said on the regulatory condition of anonymity.

    Sharif Al-Faqawi, one of the workers in line, said he lives in a single room with his wife and eight children.

    We are waiting for the crossings to open so we can work and feed our children, he said. When I go north (to Israel), at least I will be able to feed them and give them a future.

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    Israel and Hamas have clashed in four wars since 2008, most recently in May. Hamas is demanding that the blockade be lifted as part of an informal cease-fire that Egypt is trying to negotiate. Israel has lifted some of the restrictions since the end of the 11-day war in May, but warns that all depends on continued calm.

    Hamas recently held a workshop to discuss the management of natural resources in what is now Israel, once the militia liberates historic Palestine. Its detractors saw it as a sign that Hamas is unaware of the daily hardships of Gaza’s Palestinians, half of whom are unemployed.

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