Israel is building an industrial zone in the settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip, known colloquially as the Gaza envelope, which will provide thousands of Palestinians with jobs. According to Arab48.com, there are also developments at the Israeli-controlled Erez (Beit Hanoun) crossing to facilitate the passage of the Palestinian workers, with car parks and additional service facilities, such as toilets and a cafeteria, being built.
The construction of the new industrial zone was announced during a meeting last week at Erez between the Israeli occupation authorities and representatives of the Palestinian Ministry of Labour and the Civil Affairs Authority in Gaza.
The Palestinian workers from Gaza will be issued with work permits in September, similar to those which are issued in the occupied West Bank. They will replace the "economic needs" permits, which Palestinian officials have noted deprive workers from Gaza of their right to insurance cover and bonuses.
However, the work permits will be granted only through the Israeli operator. The work locations for which the permits are valid will be limited to construction and agricultural projects. Moreover, Israeli employers will be able to terminate the work permits for any reason. "But this does not mean the cancellation of the work permits," Arab48.com reported. "They will remain valid to allow people to search for new jobs, without the worker's presence being required in Israel."
Some 2.3 million Palestinians live in the narrow Gaza Strip. They are largely unable to leave to seek employment abroad, and have been squeezed by 15 years of restrictions imposed by Israel, which has launched four major offensives against the largely civilian population since 2008. Gaza also borders Egypt, which imposes its own restrictions on passage through the Rafah crossing.
Gaza has been under a strict Israeli siege since 2007 and has been subject to repeated Israeli military offensives during that period which have led to wide scale damage, high rates of unemployment and dire poverty.
Before the Palestinian Al-Aqsa Intifada (Uprising) started in 2000, around 130,000 Palestinians from Gaza worked in Israel. When Israel withdrew its illegal settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005, most labourers were banned from crossing into the occupation state to look for work.