PA announces $2m aid package for Gaza workers left stranded by Israel

PA announces $2m aid package for Gaza workers left stranded by Israel
The agreement will support Gazan workers who were detained and expelled by Israeli authorities on the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war.
3 min read
10 January, 2024
The aid package will provide basic needs to Gazan workers who were expelled from their jobs in Israel [GETTY]

Palestinians from Gaza who had Israeli work permits rescinded and were detained and stranded in the West Bank by Israel will be supported by a two-million-dollar emergency fund, the Palestinian Labour Ministry had said.

Thousands of Palestinians from Gaza and the occupied West Bank have permits to work in Israel, but when the Israel-Gaza war broke out in October last year, Israel detained them without charge and cancelled the permits.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Ministry of Labour, which is part of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, said it signed an cooperation agreement of $2.4 million with the Palestinian Fund for Employment and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, a Kuwait-based pan-Arab development finance institution to support the workers.

The aid package will provide “basic needs to Gazan workers who were forcibly expelled from their places of work and no longer needed and unable to return to the Gaza Strip due to the war”.

The funds will be provided as emergency assistance to workers over three months, the ministry said.

Around 18,500 Gazan Palestinians had work permits for Israel, but these were retracted by the Israel authorities in the days following Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on October 7 2023.

Israel locked up and abused the Palestinians who were working in Israel that day, barring them from returning home and conducting torture and interrogation sessions, according to testimonies from workers who were later released.

The stranded men were kept in horrific conditions at military camps, with reports that they were blindfolded, electrocuted, and deprived of food and water for prolonged periods.

One worker, whose testimony was published in Israeli daily Haaretz, told how he was arrested at a checkpoint in near Ramallah, taken to a room with 100 other workers and kept without water or access to a toilet, before they were all transferred to a military base.

In November, Israel released 3,000 Palestinians from detention, but thousands more are believed to still be stranded in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, has worked alongside NGOs to provide temporary shelters for the Gazan workers.

Israel has still not stated how many workers remain in its detention, nor have they said if the workers from Gaza have been charged with any crime.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report last week urging Israel to publish information on the workers’ status.

“Israeli authorities detained thousands of workers for weeks without charge in incommunicado detention, subjecting at least some to humiliating ill-treatment,” Michelle Randhawa, senior refugee and migrant rights officer at Human Rights Watch said.

“The search for perpetrators and abettors of the October 7 attacks does not justify abusing workers who had been granted permits to work in Israel.”

HRW said it had previously written to the Israeli military and Israel Prison Service in December to present its findings but was yet to receive a response.