Offer Gaza Work Visas to Stop Rockets

Israel removed all soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005. Following the forcible eviction of the Fatah government from Gaza by Hamas in 2007, thousands of rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel. Israel has been unable to stop the rocket barrages despite agreeing to make various concessions such as easing its blockade of Gaza, reopening border crossings, loosening restrictions on Hamas prisoners in Israel, and widening the Gaza fishing zone. Israel also fought three wars with Hamas in 2009, 2012, and 2014.

One offer which Israel has not made to the residents of Gaza is the opportunity to apply for agricultural jobs inside the border region of Israel. Perhaps this offer would be a more effective incentive for Hamas to stop firing its rockets into Israel. In 2018 the unemployment rate in Gaza was 52%. Residents of Gaza are desperately looking for jobs. In contrast, Israel has labor shortages in construction, manufacturing, nursing, and agriculture. To make up these shortages, Israel issues work visas to around 100,000 foreign workers. Among these foreign workers are several thousand Asian citizens employed in Israeli agriculture. Many work in the Israeli border region with Gaza which is the most frequent target of rockets launched by Hamas. In 2018 an Asian worker inside an Israeli greenhouse was badly wounded by a rocket.

Replacing some of the Asian workers with Gaza residents would make the Israeli border region a much less attractive target for Hamas rockets. Unlike the current foreign workers who reside in Israel for 27 months, Gaza workers would commute daily from their homes in Gaza, be searched at a border crossing when entering and leaving Israel, and be closely supervised inside Israel. For every rocket fired into Israel, all work visas for Gaza residents would be revoked for a fixed number of days. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu starts his new administration by making this offer on a small trial basis to Hamas, he may unite many of his opponents and supporters by enhancing the prospects for peace with the Palestinians.

About the Author
Ted Sheskin is an emeritus professor of industrial engineering and the author of a textbook, Markov Chains and Decision Processes for Engineers and Managers. He has published peer-reviewed papers on engineering systems and mathematical algorithms. His letters to editors addressing politics, economic policy, and issues facing Israel and American Jews have appeared in the NY Times, Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Week, and Jewish Voice.
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