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Workers from Gaza Face Gauntlet As Israelis Rethink Hiring Them

Israel may have reached a turning point in its large-scale employment of Arabs from the administered territories. The practice is on the wane and may eventually come to an end.

That is because of mounting antipathy and fear between Jews and Arabs on both sides of the “Green Line,” spurred by the continuing uprising in the territories. Anti-Arab sentiment is especially rife in southern Israel.

Arab day-laborers from the Gaza Strip had to run a gauntlet of rocks hurled at their cars by Jewish youths when they began returning to their jobs in Israel on Saturday.

About 30 cars with Gaza license plates were ambushed on the road connecting Gaza with Ashkelon and Ashdod. Jewish settlers in the West Bank have had the same experience driving through Arab-populated areas.

Jews of Ashkelon and Ashdod are in an especially angry mood since the discovery last week of the remains of Sgt. Avi Sasportas, a paratrooper missing since Feb. 16.

His body was found in the course of a search–still under way–for another soldier, Ilan Sa’adon, who has been missing since May 3.

Spirits had cooled somewhat by Sunday. But Arabs from Gaza driving to work in Israel had to pass through several roadblocks and undergo stiff police inspections.

The Israel Defense Force imposed a nightly curfew on the Gaza Strip, effective Saturday. Workers cannot leave their homes before 4 a.m.

An immediate consequence was the failure of street cleaners and gardeners to report to their jobs Sunday in the Ashkelon and Ashdod municipalities. Apparently they preferred to lose pay than risk their lives.

Past experience shows that many will gradually return to work. But increasing numbers are looking for work inside the Gaza Strip.

About 100,000 Arabs from the territories are employed in Israel, chiefly in menial jobs.

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