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Israel green-lights entry of thousands of Palestinian workers

Jerusalem has authorized the passage of 8,000 Arabs from Judea and Samaria across the pre-1967 lines.

Palestinian workers line up at the entrance to Ma'ale Adumim near Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
Palestinian workers line up at the entrance to Ma'ale Adumim near Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

Israel has authorized the entry of 8,000 Palestinian workers from Judea and Samaria into the country’s pre-1967 lines amid a “severe” shortage of laborers due to the war with Hamas, an Israeli security source confirmed on Tuesday.

With the approval of the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), Palestinian workers have been dispatched to “vital” industrial areas, food factories, medical facilities and burial societies, the security official told JNS.

Among other places of employment, Palestinians have been brought in to work at a large poultry plant in Jerusalem’s Atarot industrial zone, the source said.

Palestinians from Judea and Samaria have also been hired to work at hotels across the Jewish state, including in some that are housing evacuees from Israeli areas that were attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7.

The Israeli government is reportedly pushing to bring in even more Palestinian laborers, mainly to be employed in the construction and agricultural sectors.

Kan News public broadcaster said that Jerusalem’s socioeconomic Cabinet, headed by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, would discuss the approval of additional permits on Tuesday at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

At the start of Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stressed the need to “maintain Israel’s macro-economic framework so that the economy will function and not collapse,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The statement did not mention the issue of Palestinian workers in Israel.

Hamas terrorists killed at least 1,400 people and wounded more than 5,000 in a massive offensive launched from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, which included the firing of thousands of rockets at Israel and the infiltration of the Jewish state by terrorist forces.

Thousands of foreign workers have fled Israel since the start of the war. At the same time, many Israeli citizens have been called up for military service as the IDF prepares for a massive air, ground and sea invasion of Gaza to destroy Hamas.

The plan to let in more Palestinians from Judea and Samaria has previously been met with opposition from National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

“I am against the entry of thousands of workers from the [Palestinian] Authority who may endanger civilian lives,” he wrote in an Oct. 22 post on X (formerly Twitter).

Before the Oct. 7 attacks, Israel provided work permits for some 17,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to enter Israel. According to reports, some of them carried out reconnaissance for Hamas in preparation for the terrorist onslaught.

On Sunday, the head of the Civil Affairs Department in the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Col. Elad Goren, provided harrowing new details on the events of Oct. 7.

In addition to Hamas terrorists, he said, residents of Gaza “murdered, slaughtered, raped, tortured and burned our citizens. They also invaded the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Office, our base, and murdered three of our soldiers. They did shocking things there that are difficult for me to say.”

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