Opinion: The masses seen outside the offices of Gaza’s Chambers of Commerce over the past week were a poignant example that ultimately money triumphs ideology; Israel’s leaders must capitalize on this potential game-changer to put Hamas in a tight spot
Over the past week, Israel has witnessed what could prove to be the greatest game-changer as it pertains to its relationship with the Gaza Strip and its Islamist Hamas rulers.
Palestinian men gather to apply for work permits in Israel, at Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip
Massive crowds of Gazans flocked to the offices of the Chamber of Commerce across the Palestinian enclave, all of them vying to get their hands on the coveted permit that would allow them to work in Israel.
A large portion of Gaza’s 2.1 million residents are living in want, with the latest data showing unemployment standing at over 50% and daily wages at a measly NIS 43 — 21% of what they could be making in Israel.
One of the sectors hit hardest by the severe dearth of jobs are young university graduates, some of whom are willing to work for NIS 10 a day. That is, if they are even able to find any employment opportunities at all.
All these woes were only further exacerbated after the latest round of fighting between Israel and Gaza’s terrorist factions in May.
It should be noted this frenzy, which saw tens of thousands of applicants rushing to get their permits, was not preceded by any official announcement, but mere scuttlebutt.
Tens of thousands of people who care little for Hamas’ calls to “liberate Al-Aqsa from the Zionist monster” when they see they barely have anything to eat.
Work in Israel is also an opportunity for them to escape the harsh reality of Gaza and venture to the outside world.
This is the most poignant example that, at the end of the day, money triumphs ideology.
Israel must capitalize on this potential game-changer. Notwithstanding the hopes of many — the Gaza Strip and its 2.1 million residents are not going anywhere anytime soon.
As the country’s military top brass and successive governments keep reiterating time and time again that full military occupation of the seaside territory is off the table, Gaza’s civilian population could serve as its trump card for peace in the region.
Allowing Gazans to work in Israel serves as a crucial counterweight to Hamas’ threats — Israeli authorities would be able to shut the gates at the faintest whiff of aggression, thus binding the interests of the Gazan populace together with that of the terror groups, whether they like it or not.
Needless to say, each entrant would be subjected to a thorough vetting process which would help deter any bad actors who wish to utilize their permit for terrorist activities — no one will be so willing to give up what is essentially a winning lottery ticket.
It has been nearly 15 years since Gazans were allowed to work in Israel. There is no reason for Israel to fling wide the gates and let everyone in all at once. Any such future plans should start off with a certain cap on permits, which would be raised if Hamas makes good on its word to maintain calm in the area.
Israel’s leaders must jump on the opportunity presented before them. For decades, military and political officials have been working day and night to find a way to put Hamas in a tight spot, but those who the terror outfit claims to care for are the exact same ones who have given it to Israel.