Israel bans workers from Gaza as border tensions escalate

Published September 21, 2023
The mother of 25-year-old Palestinian Yousef Radwan, who was killed during clashes in Gaza Strip on Tuesday, cries during his funeral in Khan Yunis.—AFP
The mother of 25-year-old Palestinian Yousef Radwan, who was killed during clashes in Gaza Strip on Tuesday, cries during his funeral in Khan Yunis.—AFP

GAZA: Israel closed crossing points with Gaza on Wednesday, preventing thousands of workers from getting to their jobs in Israel and the West Bank, following days of border demonstrations that saw Israeli forces open fire and kill a protester a day earlier.

The move stops more than 18,000 Palestinians from crossing for work, depriving the blockaded territory’s ailing economy of around $2 million a day, according to local economists.

Protests backed by Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, have been held for days, against issues ranging from the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails to Jewish visits to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

On Tuesday, a Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces during the protests and 11 others were wounded, according to Gaza health officials.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces killed a 19-year-old Palestinian in a pre-dawn raid in the West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said, as violence in the occupied territory showed no sign of any letup.

Durgham al-Akhras was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers raiding Aqabat Jaber refugee camp near the city of Jericho to carry out arrests, the ministry said.

The Israeli army said “explosive devices” were hurled at troops, who “responded with live fire toward one of the suspects and neutralised him,” a statement said.

Separately, the Palestinian health ministry announced the death of Yasser Mussa, 29, who was wounded during an Israeli raid on Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank late on Tuesday.

In total, four Palestinians were killed in the Jenin operation in which Israeli troops were backed by a drone, the ministry said.

A spokesperson for Cogat, the Israeli Defence Ministry agency that coordinates with the Palestinians, confirmed that the Erez crossing into Gaza was closed and said it would be re-opened “in accordance with situational assessments”.

The border closure, which follows a brief ban on exports from Gaza earlier this month after inspectors found explosives in a consignment of goods, will add pressure to an economy already under strain due a blockade imp­osed by Israel and Egypt.

“We are too afraid the crossing won’t open anytime soon and I go back to living in poverty and need,” said one Gaza father of five, who has been sleeping at the Palestinian side of Erez crossing since Sunday evening.

The 18,000 workers’ permits allowed by Israel bring in significant quantities of cash to a territory where according to IMF figures, per capita income is only a quarter of the level in the West Bank.

A spokesman for Hamas, said that as a result of the closure, 8,000 workers who returned to Gaza because of Israeli Jewish holidays have been stranded in the territory since the ban.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

IMF’s projections
Updated 18 Apr, 2024

IMF’s projections

The problems are well-known and the country is aware of what is needed to stabilise the economy; the challenge is follow-through and implementation.
Hepatitis crisis
18 Apr, 2024

Hepatitis crisis

THE sheer scale of the crisis is staggering. A new WHO report flags Pakistan as the country with the highest number...
Never-ending suffering
18 Apr, 2024

Never-ending suffering

OVER the weekend, the world witnessed an intense spectacle when Iran launched its drone-and-missile barrage against...
Saudi FM’s visit
Updated 17 Apr, 2024

Saudi FM’s visit

The government of Shehbaz Sharif will have to manage a delicate balancing act with Pakistan’s traditional Saudi allies and its Iranian neighbours.
Dharna inquiry
17 Apr, 2024

Dharna inquiry

THE Supreme Court-sanctioned inquiry into the infamous Faizabad dharna of 2017 has turned out to be a damp squib. A...
Future energy
17 Apr, 2024

Future energy

PRIME MINISTER Shehbaz Sharif’s recent directive to the energy sector to curtail Pakistan’s staggering $27bn oil...