Expansion of work permit program for Gazans frozen due to rocket attack on southern Israel, COGAT announces.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Just days after announcing that an additional 2,000 permits to work in Israel would be issued to residents of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government said on Sunday that it would be suspending the move due to a rocket attack early Saturday morning.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who had previously spearheaded the initiative to expand the work permit program, decided to freeze the step until further notice after a rocket fired from Gaza caused red alert sirens to sound in Israel’s southern communities, including the city of Ashkelon.
The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, and came just after military reports indicating that 2022 had the fewest number of rocket attacks originating from the Strip in a decade.
COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), a unit in the Israeli Defense Ministry that coordinates between the IDF and Palestinians on civilian affairs, said in a statement that the suspension of the work permits lies with Hamas.
“The Hamas terror group bears responsibility for everything that is done in and emanates from the Gaza Strip towards the State of Israel, and it will bear the consequences,” COGAT said.
The move to allow another 2,000 work permits, which came as part of a plan to issue a record-high 20,000 work permits for Gazans, was met with a mixed reception by some analysts.
Dr. Edy Cohen, a prominent Arab affairs commentator and professor at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center, told World Israel News that the decision to expand work permits for Gazans had potentially grave consequences for national security.
“Hamas knows who every single worker is, where they’re going, who they’re meeting with…It’s intelligence gathering,” he said, during a conversation with WIN before the permit freezes were announced.
“You’re giving a lot of people, who are potential enemies, the opportunity to enter Israel.”
On the other hand, Cohen noted, increased cash flow to the Strip and additional economic opportunities could serve to make terror a less appealing option for both individual terrorists and Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave.