Palestinian workers admitted

21 June 2004
Israel allowed 500 Palestinian labourers in from the Gaza Strip on 20 June for the first time in three months, after they were barred from entering Israel since the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March.

The Israeli army says some Palestinian labourers are already allowed to re-enter Israel. By allowing more workers to travel into Israel shows that the country is feeling more confident that Hamas threat has decreased. Before the Palestinian uprising, tens of thousands of Gazans earned their living in Israel. Now, unemployment in the Gaza Strip stands at 50 per cent and two-thirds of families live below the poverty line.

Hamas had threatened massive retaliation after Israel assassinated spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin - but Hamas has since suffered a series of blows to its Gaza and West Bank leaderships. Hamas is also being urged by Cairo and the Palestinian Authority to refrain from violence to ensure Israel goes through with its withdrawal plan from the Gaza Strip.

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