Israel reopens Gaza crossing for Palestinian workers

Erez border point is used by 12,000 Palestinians with permits to enter Israel for work

Palestinian workers leave the last station in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip before reaching Israel through the Erez crossing. AFP

Israel has reopened the only crossing from the Gaza Strip for Palestinian workers, nearly two weeks after closing it over unrest, the Defence Ministry said.

The Erez crossing, which used by 12,000 Palestinians with permits to enter Israel for work, reopened on Sunday.

Cogat, a unit of the Israeli Defence Ministry responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, said: "Following an assessment of the security situation, it has been decided ... to open Erez crossing for passage of workers and permit holders from the Gaza Strip into Israel, beginning Sunday," AFP reported.

Jobs in Israel offer a vital source of income for residents of Gaza, where the economy has stagnated under an Israeli blockade imposed after the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.

A recent World Bank report put the unemployment rate in Gaza, a Palestinian territory of about 2.3 million people, at nearly 48 per cent.

Israel had closed the crossing on May 3 in the run-up to Israel's national memorial and independence days.

The closure came after rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza following Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank and confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem that left hundred of worshippers injured.

None of the militant groups in Gaza claimed responsibility for the the rocket launches, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks from the territory.

Hamas has fought repeatedly with Israel over the past 15 years, most recently an 11-day war in May last year. Israeli authorities feared the tension and violence in and around Jerusalem in April, when Muslims were observing Ramadan, would bring another full-blown conflict with Gaza, but that did not happen.

Updated: May 15, 2022, 12:53 PM