In order to help people in Gaza, where unemployment is high, the Israeli government has in recent years allowed thousands of Gazans to work in Israel as day laborers, where they earn salaries that are three to five times what they can earn in Gaza itself. This past year, the number of Gazans receiving Israeli work permits rose to 20,000; in Judea and Samaria, the number of permits for Palestinians increased to 100,000. What Israel has now discovered is that many of those Gazan workers collected intelligence on Israel and provided it to Hamas. More on this repayment of evil for good can be found here: “The Gaza laborers’ role in the October 7 massacre,” by
The status of day laborers from Gaza has always been a bone of contention between Israel and its critics. The State Department has repeatedly pressed Israel to admit more of them. Many Israelis worried about the potential security risks, citing the occasional laborer involved in a terrorist act.
The State Department, of course, doesn’t have to worry about the security consequences of more Gazans working in Israel, so it can afford to be cavalier with its advice. 20,000 today, 50,000 tomorrow — the State Department doesn’t care about the consequences. It’s the Israelis who will pay with their lives if those laborers turn out — as they have — to be untrustworthy.
Now it turns out that the security risk was much greater than anybody imagined.
The Washington Post reported November 12 that the reason the Hamas terrorists were so well versed in the access points, layout, and other aspects of the Israeli towns they invaded is because they had “compiled information from Gazan day laborers, who were allowed to enter Israel every day to work.” The Post cited as its sources for this fact “intelligence officials from multiple countries.”
Many of the laborers worked in the communities that were ravaged by Hamas, where entire families were shot, burned alive, and mutilated in their homes,” the Times of Israel noted. It should be mentioned that Israelis were especially kind to these workers, giving them gifts and trying to be friendly.
No matter how well treated by Israelis, both employers and others who offered every kindness (some of the people who were murdered on October 7 used to pick up and drive Gazans to Israeli hospitals for treatment), some of those laborers harbored in their hearts homicidal hatred of “the Jews.”
Many of them worked in the very kibbutzim where Hamas operatives rampaged, beheading babies, burning children alive, raping and murdering young girls, gouging out eyes, slicing off breasts, murdering children in front of their parents and parents in front of their children. Some of those Gazans working in southern Israel provided Hamas with information as to the best entrance points into Israel, and detailed layouts of the kibbutzim, information as to the size and makeup of each family, the layout of houses, the placement of home shelters, even where the guards — where there were security guards — were placed.
Until October 7, the main security risk from the day workers appeared to stem from the relatively small number of individual laborers who used their access to commit acts of terrorism.
One such episode in 1994 particularly shook the Israeli public. The victim was a Holocaust survivor named Isaac Rotenberg, whose life in many ways had symbolized the rise and success of the State of Israel….
Two of the other workers, Abu-Moussa Atiya and Shabbi Hazam, came each day from Gaza. On March 29, when Rotenberg’s back was turned, Atiya and Hazam butchered him with axes. The State Department later pressured Israel to free a number of imprisoned terrorists as a “confidence-building gesture” to the Palestinian Authority, and Atiya walked free….
It was the State Department that urged Israel to free murderers such as Abu-Moussa Atiya as a “confidence-building” measure. But whose “confidence” was being built? Certainly not that of Israel, whose trust in the Gazans had been shaken by the many murders of its own citizens, including that of Isaac Rotenberg. And not the “confidence” of Gazans, who are always delighted to get back some of their own murderers, but have no more ‘confidence” in Israel than they had before, and even if they did, so what? Their “confidence” would only be in their ability to hornswoggle the Americans into pressuring Israel to free murderers, as they did with Abu Moussa Atiya. The relations between Jihadis and their intended victims have nothing to do with “building confidence.” Neither Hamas, nor any other terrorist group, will be in the least bit more favorably-inclined toward “the Jews,” no matter how many Arab prisoners the Israelis set free. Hamas did not end its war against Israel when Jerusalem freed 1,027 Palestinians, including many convicted of murder, in order to get back one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. It was, in fact, emboldened, convinced that it now had a sure way — kidnapping Israelis and offering to exchange them — to free its prisoners.
The catastrophic advice in 2018 of the Lebanese-American Hady Amr, who now works at the State Department, consisted in his urging Israel to increase the number of Gazans it provided with work permits to between 50,000 and 75,000. The State Department is certainly the right place for him, as it has long been a center for anti-Israel animus in the government. The State Department’s Breckenridge Long, an out-and-out antisemite, prevented Jewish refugees from being admitted to the U.S. during World War II. The same State Department, under Secretary of State George Marshall, opposed American recognition of the state of Israel; Harry Truman ignored that advice. The same State Department imposed an embargo on weapons for Israel during the 1948 war. The same State Department pressured Israel to withdraw from the Sinai in 1957 before obtaining Egyptian guarantees for Israeli shipping to use the Suez Canal. The same State Department managed to prevent American arms to be sent to Israel until after the Six-Day War. The same State Department treated Yasir Arafat as a “statesman,” and continued to curry favor with him even after he rejected out of hand the generous territorial settlement offered to him by Ehud Barak. And it is the State Department that has for many years been pushing Israel to admit greater numbers into its midst of laborers from Gaza and from Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the West Bank), including the two who murdered Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg in 1994.
Can you imagine the security nightmare for Israel if it had taken Hady Amr’s advice in 2018 — to admit 50,000 to 75,000 laborers every day from Gaza? How much more intelligence might such a huge number of laborers have gathered on behalf of Hamas? How many more of those workers, inside Israel, would have opportunities to learn about the placement and size of Israeli military bases, the security perimeters of its airbases, the weapons warehouses that Hamas rockets could then target, and much more? And how many would have already been inside Israel on the early morning of October 7, and able to join the 3,000 Hamas operatives in torturing, raping, and murdering Israelis? Fortunately Israel paid no attention to Hady Amr’s preposterous suggestion.
How easy it is for people sitting safely in their think tanks in Washington, or in the State Department, to make pronouncements about what Israel “should” do. Those who urged that the American government should pressure Israel to accept 100,000 Gazans to work in the country clearly had no real understanding of Israel’s minimal security needs, no realization that Israel has had to fight three times for its very existence (in 1948, 1967, 1973), no grasp of the Palestinians’ implacable deep hatred for “the Jews.” Those 20,000 workers from Gaza that had been allowed in this year turned out, Israel has learned to its sorrow, to be too many. When the war is over, we will find out exactly what kinds of intelligence those guest workers furnished Hamas. It’s clear that no more Gazans will any longer be working in the Jewish state. Those Washington “Middle East experts” who keep telling Israel what it must do to “build confidence” should now have the decency to shut up.
Since October 7, we have learned from the Shin Bet and other sources that some of the 20,000 Gazans who were allowed to work in Israel have repaid that trust with treachery. They provided information to Hamas about entry points into from Gaza into Israel, the layout of kibbutzim, the size and make-up of families in each house, where the handful of security guards were positioned, and much more. From now on, no Gazans will be allowed into Israel to work. On October 7, had not 20,000, but 50,000, 75,000, even 100,000 Gazans been working in Israel, imagine just how much more knowledge those many guest workers would have gained during their stays inside Israel, and then have shared it with Hamas. And how many of those 20,000, in fact, joined Hamas operatives in slaughtering Israelis — perhaps in murdering the very people whom they worked for?
Israel has now learned an important lesson. No more Gazans — not even one — can be given permission to work in Israel. Every time Israel tries to help the Palestinians, they pocket that help and continue to harm, in any way they can, “the Jews.” Basta.