Israeli Authorities Expediting Economic, Industrial Development of Gaza Strip

Israeli authorities are trying to expedite the economic and industrial development of the Gaza Strip on the theory that the fewer idle hands, the less violence in that volatile territory. The ancient fishing port at Gaza is being restored and enlarged to handle some general cargo. An industrial center is being built at Beit Hanun near the old Israeli border and unemployment has been drastically reduced by allowing Gaza Arabs to work freely in Israel and on the West Bank. Minister-Without-Portfolio Israel Galili urged the government last week to strengthen its economic base in the Gaza Strip. According to Mr. Galili, the government has already decided that Israel will never withdraw from the strip. He spoke at Kfar Darom, a Jewish settlement on the outskirts of Gaza which was abandoned during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and recaptured in 1967. Mr. Galili insisted that “stormy political events” must not deter Israel from expanding Jewish settlements and consolidating its hold on the strip. But there are problems inherent in such a policy. The Gaza military government reported last week that only 3000 workers of the 65,000 registered at government employment offices were out of jobs. But many Gaza Arabs are employed by private employers in Israel who bypass the labor exchanges. This has renewed the old fears of some Israeli leaders that a habit may develop in Israel of employing Arabs at menial jobs at wages lower than the prevailing minimums. Of all the Arab territories seized by Israel in the Six-Day War, Gaza with its large refugee camp population, remains the most violence prone. Reports of grenade attacks, killings and sabotage are almost daily routine. Most of the victims are Arabs suspected of collaborating with Israel.

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