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Authorities Issue Id Cards to Arab Workers from Gaza

Israel began a major effort Tuesday to bar Palestinians with criminal or security offense records from crossing the “Green Line.”

Special magnetized identity cards were issued to about 1,000 Gaza Strip residents, after thorough background checks. The distribution of the ID cards went smoothly.

The cards will be needed hereafter by the some 75,000 Gazans who cross into Israel proper each day, about 45,000 of them to work for Jewish employers.

Israelis want to weed out workers who will take jobs in Israel and then join the Palestinian uprising.

The new ID cards will be issued to males over 16 years of age and will be valid for six to 12 months. Cards will not be issued to those who have been jailed or to those who have not paid their taxes. Security sources estimate that no more than 2,000 Gazans will be denied entry.

The system was instituted after a series of criminal acts by Palestinians inside Israel. A passerby was knifed to death in Tel Aviv recently by a resident of the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza.

The public demanded action after the body of a soldier, Avi Sasportas, was found last month in the countryside near the Gaza Strip. He is believed to have been abducted and murdered by Arabs from the Gaza Strip.

Members of the Knesset Interior Committee, meanwhile, argued forcefully Tuesday against measures taken in some localities to restrict the movement of Arab laborers.

The strongest objections were raised about a plan by the mayor of Ariel, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, to have Arabs wear badges with the inscription “foreign worker.”

That idea was dropped after it drew criticism from some of the settlers’ right-wing supporters.

Also considered unseemly for an Israeli municipality was Petach Tikva’s plan to require Arab workers to congregate in a central stockade, where they would be picked up and dropped off by their Jewish employers.

The committee ruled that mayors were not empowered to determine the conditions under which Palestinians are employed, especially when they harmed Israel’s image by doing so.

The panel recommended, however, that wages for day laborers be raised, in order to attract Jews to the menial tasks that up to now only Arabs will perform.

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