Israel on Friday began sending thousands of Palestinian workers back to Gaza who had been stranded inside Israel since its war with Hamas erupted, a Gaza border official said.
“Thousands of workers who were blocked in Israel since October 7 have been brought back,” Hisham Adwan, head of Gaza’s crossings authority, told AFP.
AFPTV footage shot early on Friday showed groups of workers arriving through the Karem Abu Salem crossing between Israel and southern Gaza, which is normally only used for goods.
Israel said late on Thursday it would start deporting the workers back to Gaza.
“Israel is severing all contact with Gaza. There will be no more Palestinian workers from Gaza,” the Israeli security cabinet said in a statement.
“Those workers from Gaza who were in Israel on the day of the outbreak of the war will be returned to Gaza,” it added, without specifying how many people would be sent back.
Before the war started, some 18,500 Gazans were holding Israeli work permits, according to figures provided by COGAT, the Israeli defence body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs.
COGAT did not immediately respond to a request for the number of Gazans who were working inside Israel on October 7, when Hamas militants stormed across the border and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.
Following the onslaught, Israel struck back hard with a relentless bombing campaign that has killed more than 9,000 people, mainly civilians, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.