GAZA, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Mahmoud Abu Reziq, a Gazan resident, has been living in a state of anxiety ever since the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing was closed 10 days ago, fearing that he might lose his job in Israel if the closure continues.
On Sept. 16, the Israeli authorities shut down the only pedestrian crossing to the Gaza Strip, the Erez Crossing, to prevent Gazans from reaching Israeli cities.
The Israeli move came in response to the violent Palestinian demonstrations that have been going on in the eastern fence separating Gaza from Israel for almost two weeks. The protests were held to show support for the Palestinians jailed in Israeli prisons.
During the demonstrations, the Palestinian protesters hurled stones and some explosive devices at the Israeli soldiers stationed in the eastern territories.
In a press statement, Ghassan Alyan, the coordinator of Israeli government activities in the Palestinian territories, said "the closure will remain in place until further notice based on evaluating the security situation in the coastal enclave."
"Keeping the crossing closed means that we will lose the main income source that keeps our families afloat after suffering from poverty for long years," Abu Reziq, the 48-year-old father of eight complained to Xinhua.
Abu Reziq obtained a permit to work in Israel in the construction sector eight months ago.
Yet, all his life would be turned upside down, as he said, if Israel threw the workers' issue into the political wrangling with the Palestinian factions, mainly the ruling Hamas in Gaza.
"We seek to live in safety and peace to provide a decent life for our families. We have never and will never think about getting involved in any violent activities in the Gaza Strip," he stressed.
To avoid losing his job permanently, Abu Reziq constantly communicates with his Israeli employer to keep him updated on the developments in Gaza.
The situation is not better for Younis Abu Ismail, a 38-year-old Gazan worker, who returned to the Gaza Strip like thousands of other workers during the Jewish holidays 10 days ago and was unable to return to their workplaces again due to the closure of the crossing.
"Closing the crossing for a longer period increases the worker's daily financial loss. If the situation gets worse between the Palestinian factions and Israel, we may return to the state of poverty once again," the father of six told Xinhua.
Both Abu Reziq and Abu Ismail hope that the issue of Palestinian workers will be exempted from any political disputes and that they will be able to return to their work in Israel soon to make some money that keeps their families afloat.
About 18,000 Palestinian workers from Gaza work in various Israeli cities, of whom 9,000 exit daily through the Erez Crossing, according to official Palestinian and Israeli statistics.
Despite the fact that the Gazans working in Israel only account for less than 15 percent of the total unemployed workers in Gaza, they have contributed to improving the economic situation in the besieged strip, according to Hamid Gad, an economist in Gaza.
Gad said those working in Israel bring in around 2 million U.S. dollars a month into Gaza's economy. A job in Israel can bring in 10 times what they could earn at home, a powerful incentive in an impoverished area.
Meanwhile, Sami al-Amassi, the head of the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions, accused Israel of blackmailing the Palestinian factions in Gaza by adopting a policy of linking the issuance of workers' permits to the security and political situations.
He warned that the continued closure of the Erez crossing would lead to a major humanitarian disaster for tens of thousands of workers' families in Gaza.
He called on all international and Arab parties to put pressure on Israel to separate the Gazan workers' rights from current political developments and incidents in the coastal enclave. ■