Israel's plan to grant women in Gaza work permits stirs gender divide

Israel's plan to grant women in Gaza work permits stirs gender divide
Some, mainly women, expressed their satisfaction with the step that may improve their families' economic situation. Others, mostly men, reject the plan.
4 min read
06 September, 2022
Israel's plan to grant women in Gaza work permits triggered strong debate. [Getty]

The Israeli decision to grant women in Gaza permits to work inside Israel stirred great debate in the Gaza Strip. 

Some, mainly women, expressed satisfaction over the step that may improve their families' economic situation.  Others, mostly men, reject allowing their female relatives to work inside Israel under the pretext of security considerations, as well as the demanding nature of careers in Israel. 

In August, Ghassan Alyan, the Israeli government coordinator in the Palestinian territories, announced in a press statement that "the Israeli Defense Ministry decided to increase the number of Gazan workers allowed in Israel to 20,000."

He added the Israeli ministry is also looking into granting work permits to hundreds of Gazan women to work in Israel. "The decision is a part of the truce understandings reached in the wake of the May 2021 military aggression on Gaza," he said. 

"The Israeli measures led to a decrease in the unemployment rate in Gaza and also caused a slight increase in the average daily wage in Gaza for workers," he said. 

Based on the Israeli plan, women will work in primary sectors, including agriculture, sewing, caring for the elderly, and service areas related to hygiene in hospitals, schools and municipalities in Arab villages in the Negev, as well as domestic workers. 

Amal al-Hayek, a Gaza-based woman, said to The New Arab that she is looking forward to enrolling to get the Israeli work permit in a bid to keep her seven-member family afloat. 

The 42-year-old mother of five has been impoverished since her husband became unemployed after he lost his legs from an Israeli strike on their house in 2014. 

"The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority denied paying salary to my husband as a disabled person (...) Hamas sends some financial and food aid from time to time," al-Hayek said. 

"Neither Hamas nor Fatah cares about the people's needs in Gaza, so we have to struggle to live and to keep our families afloat", she added. 

"We have the right to live a decent life and build a good future for our kids," she said. "I do not like to lose any one of my children during the Israeli wars. No one of us will win. But the leaders and their sons do".

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Jalal al-Tawil adopts a different opinion. "Women’s work in Israel would contribute to security risks as Israel will do its best to force women to collaborate with them against the Palestinian resistance," he argued

He believes that even the men who work in Israel are subjected to Israeli blackmails to provide security information related to the resistance activities in Gaza. 

"I am sure that they are suffering a lot to not do that (...) dozens of workers were prevented from working in Israel because they support the resistance only," he claimed. 

He called on the Hamas-run local authorities to create alternative works for women in Gaza to protect them from Israeli blackmail and "difficult professions". 

Israel has imposed a tight siege on the Gaza Strip since mid-2007 after the Islamic Hamas movement took control of the Strip from forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority. In addition to the siege, Israel launched four wars on Gaza since 2008, causing thousands of deaths and injuries.

The successive years of the Israeli-imposed siege propelled the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip to become among the highest in the world, noted several reports by the World Bank. 

More than 80 per cent of the people of the Gaza Strip depend on humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations, as a result of the 15-year-old Israeli blockade.

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"Despite, the Palestinian Labor Law No. (7) of 2000 guaranteed Palestinian women the right to work, whether inside or outside the Palestinian territories, it should be within conditions and controls, most notably preserving their dignity and providing an appropriate atmosphere," Sami Al-Amsi, the head of the Palestine Trade Union Federation in Gaza, said to The New Arab.

"Two decades ago, some women have experienced work in Israel and the West Bank, but they cannot work in the construction and agricultural sector, which Israel presents with 95 per cent of Palestinian workers," he added. "For this, we rejected the Israeli plan."

"However, if Israel changes its conditions in the fields of women’s work, we may allow women to work in it," he said.