Illegal Crossings Surge as Israel Revokes Work Permits for Palestinians

By Yoni Weiss

General view of the community of Elon Moreh, near Shechem, last week. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Defense officials reported that approximately 40,000 Palestinians have illegally crossed into Israel from Yehudah and Shomron, with most seeking employment. Following the Oct. 7 massacre, Israel revoked all permits for Palestinians to work inside Israel.

The IDF noted that given the high number of Palestinians crossing the border fence, it would be more effective to allow them entry through official border crossings where they can be monitored.

Since the massacre, only 8,000 Palestinians from Yehudah and Shomron have been permitted to work in Israel in critical jobs for the economy, while more than 10,000 continue to work in settlements with the approval of security officials and local councils. The decision to block workers from their jobs in Israel has negatively impacted both sides, severely affecting Israel’s construction and agriculture sectors. Over 100,000 Palestinians remain unemployed, making them vulnerable to recruitment by terror groups like Hamas, which, under Iranian guidance, offers payments for acts of terror against IDF forces and civilians.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has proposed further measures to weaken the Palestinian Authority after it pursued legal action against Israel in international courts. Security officials warned that such measures would pose a security risk, particularly for Yehudah and Shomron residents, and could divert IDF forces from operations in Gaza, disrupting efforts to eliminate Hamas and affecting the war against Hezbollah and Iran.

The officials proposed an alternative plan with the Coordinator for Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT) and the Shin Bet for a gradual return of Palestinian workers to Israel under stricter evaluation and supervision. They emphasized that technological means at border crossings would allow tight control over the movement of workers.

Despite this, Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have resisted changes to the early war decisions, preventing the matter from reaching the cabinet for consideration. IDF and security agency officials acknowledge the political climate and ministerial resistance but stress that weakening the PA strengthens Hamas in Yehudah and Shomron and continues to harm the Israeli economy, urging the cabinet to provide a solution.

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