Demand for Hebrew classes in the Gaza Strip has dramatically increased recently and is directly linked to Israel’s decision to ease restrictions and offer more work permits for Gazans who seek employment in the Jewish state.
Additional work opportunities in Israel are crucial for the population in Gaza, where approximately 50% of the population is reportedly unemployed and some 64% live in poverty.
These conditions are largely due to the oppressive Hamas regime and its decision to prioritize terrorist activity against Israel over the wellbeing of the more than two million inhabitants in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Nafha Language Center in Gaza, the number of students wanting to study Hebrew has reportedly quadrupled since Israel began offering work permits in late 2021. The owner, Ahmed Al-Faleet, says approximately 160 students from Gaza are enrolled in each Hebrew course being offered and the interest continues to grow.
Al-Faleet explained the importance of acquiring Hebrew language skills for Gazan workers seeking employment in Israel.
“These courses allow anyone who gets a permit to read signs, documents written in Hebrew, and communicate with (soldiers) on Israeli checkpoints. If an employer speaks only Hebrew, it enables the worker to deal with him,” Al-Faleet told Reuters.
Following the Hamas terrorist organization’s violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, which included firing thousands of rockets against Israel, Gazans were largely barred from entering Israel due to security reasons.
However, after the most recent war between Hamas and Israel in May 2021, Jerusalem decided to gradually reduce political tensions by issuing more work permits for workers from the impoverished Gaza Strip.
In October 2021, the Israeli government announced it would increase the number of work permits for Gazans by 40% from 7,000 to 10,000.
Like his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett believes the key to peace between Israel and its immediate neighbors is to improve the daily lives for the Arab population in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
“Through business, through economy, through jobs, it’s the most sustainable way to bring stability,” stated stated at the World Economic Forum virtual conference.
While few believe that more economic opportunities for Gazans will solve the conflict between Hamas and Israel, it could significantly lower tensions along the border between Israel and Gaza.
Head of the Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) in Gaza, Colonel Moshe Tetro supports this economic model and believes that new job opportunities for Gazans “would also serve calm and security stability.”
Workers in Gaza are attracted to the prospect of significantly higher salaries inside Israel, compared to Gaza. There is a dramatic difference in income – workers can earn on average $156 per day in Israel, which is the equivalent of an entire week of income in Gaza.
“I came here today to learn Hebrew so I can handle things at my work inside (Israel) easily,” said Farra, a resident of Gaza.
Jamil Abdallah, a 31-year-old who lives in the Gazan city Jabalya, described how necessary his work in Israel is for his family in Gaza.
“Every week I go back home happy to my family with 2,000 shekels ($625). I also give to my mother and my father,” he said.
Eassam Daalis, a senior official in the terrorist Hamas regime, believes the Jewish state will eventually offer as many as 30,000 work permits for Gazans inside Israel.
Economist Mohammad Abu Jayyab of Gaza says Israeli work permits are linked to wider political initiatives brokered by the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar.
“These are not unilateral Israeli initiatives,” said Jayyab. In fact, even the previous Netanyahu-led government understood the correlation between improved economic conditions in Gaza to security and quiet along the Israeli borders.
Tetro openly admitted that Gazans would benefit economically in return for increased security for Israel.
“If the security situation remains stable and calm, the state of Israel would open up more and more,” he said.
While additional work permits for Gazans will be a valuable economic inflow for the impoverished Gaza Strip, the current number is still only a fraction of how many Gazans were working in Israel two decades ago.
Before the late Yasser Arafat, chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), launched the lethal Intifada terrorist war in 2000 against the Jewish state, approximately 130,000 Gazan workers commuted regularly for work inside Israel.