An estimated 1,250 Palestinians, living in the Gaza Strip, returned to work in Israel Sunday, following the easing of an Israeli ban on Palestinian workers, General Saeb Al-Ajez, a police chief in the Gaza Strip, said. Aal-Ajez told reporters, "1,250 Palestinians entered Israel to work today."
Israel reissued work permits to 5,381 Palestinians, residing in the Gaza Strip, but not all of the permits have been distributed, anonymous Palestinian labor ministry sources said. The number of Israeli work permits issued to the West Bank has not been disclosed. A Palestinian security official indicated that Israel had authorized only 50 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to work in Israel on Friday.
The Israeli government announced Thursday that 16,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would be allowed to return to work in Israel. To qualify, the Palestinians had to meet the Israeli criteria of being at least 35 years old, married, and the father of at least one child.
Before the intifada, or Palestinian uprising, started on September 28, some 120,000 Palestinians worked daily in Israel. But in the wake of the intifada clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians, Israel had sealed its borders with the Palestinian territories, triggering mass unemployment amongst the Palestinians.
The United Nations estimates that unemployment has affected 40 percent of the Palestinian population and cost the Palestinian economy an estimated $3.4 million per day. — (AFP, Gaza City)
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