Opinion: Government’s new policy, which seeks to differentiate between terrorists and civilian population in Gaza, relies on assumption that workers who have seen life with all its economic benefits would not want to go back to terror-induced poverty

Every Thursday afternoon, thousands of laborers from the Gaza Strip return home through the Erez border crossing after a week of work in Israel.

Their pockets are bulging with their weekly wages paid to them in cash, and their faces beaming with big smiles. They are making a living. All is well, or at least it appears that way.

מעבר ארז
Gazans return from their work inside Israel (Photo: Roee Idan)


This has been going on for the past year, since Israel decided to allow Gazans to work inside the country in the hopes of improving the failing economy of the Strip.

By paying them in cash, however, the workers are deprived of receiving payments in an orderly manner via a paycheck – as is customary in Israel, in Gaza and in most of the world. Along with it, they are deprived of social benefits and insurance that come with said paycheck, even in the Strip that is ruled by terror and chaos.

There are 2.5 million residents in Gaza, and the vast majority of them are not terrorists.

Israel’s security officials are well-aware of that fact and are deploying a policy, which aims to differentiate between terrorists and uninvolved civilians.

פועלים פלסטינים חוצים מרצועת עזה לישראל במעבר ארז
Gazan’s line up to cross into Israel for work (Photo: AFP)


The past year has also been the quietest in a decade when it comes to the Gazan border. As a result, from Monday, a number of work permits for Gazans was expanded to 14,000 thanks to a law legislated by the Bennett government last March that regulates their employment.

The law allows workers from Gaza to enjoy the same benefits as Israelis working in the country. Israeli employers in the fields of agriculture and construction will issue monthly pay slips and provide social benefits, including sick days, pension, health insurance and more.

Security authorities do not believe the new law alone will bring about an end to the dispute with Hamas, the deadly terror organization ruling the Gaza Strip.

But in order to maintain calm, this is an important first step. A viable economy and an acceptable standard of living are as good a deterrent against terror as the barrel of a gun.

Gazan women shop at a local market
Gazan women shop at a local market (Photo: Reuters)


The money brought into the Gazan economy improves the lives of local civilians, while a worker who is adequately paid and is provided social benefits, assumes a more respectable position among his peers.

He is an example for the local youth to follow, as well as for his children and close family. The chances that he would put all that at risk by carrying out acts of terror substantially diminish the moment he gets that pay slip.

Will this bring a major change to the border? Probably not. But this is a positive first step and will likely contribute to long-term plans for calm in the south.

As reported by Ynetnews