Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman will decide in the next few days whether or not to authorize the entry of workers from Gaza into Israel to undertake agricultural work. The idea of bringing in workers from Gaza was hatched by farmers in the Gaza border area – the same ones who are constantly targeted by Hamas rockets – to help with farm work. The farmers are requesting that Liberman authorize the entry of hundreds workers for now; at harvest time, that number could reach the thousands.
According to the plan, Gaza Arabs would be allowed to work in the western Negev, essentially restoring the situation that existed until 2007, when Hamas seized control of Gaza. The heads of four regional authorities in the Gaza border area met several months ago with Liberman, presenting their needs for agricultural workers and requesting his support for the plan. Liberman promised to think about it, sources in the Defense Ministry said.
While Liberman is said to be favorably disposed to the plan – as is the IDF – the Shin Bet is opposed to it, over the likelihood that Hamas will use the program to smuggle terrorists into Israel, making it easier to attack Israeli citizens.
Alon Shuster, head of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, said that “the permit program we are seeking to implement is a matter of huge importance. It is in the interests of Israel and in the interests of Gaza. The entry of Gaza workers into Israel will greatly assist farmers here, and will also provide humanitarian assistance to Gazans.”