Official: Israel Giving Security Preference at Gaza Border to Export Workers

Otef Aza

Kibbutz Industries Association CEO Udi Ornstein declared that the fact that the Israeli government only provides security protection to those workers in the area known as “Otef Aza” (surrounding Gaza) involved in the production of items for export as unreasonable discrimination.

“The state must find a way to help in the protection of workers in factories which only supply the domestic market as well.”

Everyone remembers the fighting that went on last summer in and around the Gaza strip. Rockets and mortars fell every day all around the area of Israel within 20 miles of the Strip. This cause a suspension of a great deal of work in both industry and agriculture in the area.

Following last summer’s operation defensive Shield which the IDF engaged in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government decided to allocate funds to assist enterprises in the area affected by Hamas terrorist attacks. The program was carried out by the investment board of the Economy Ministry to protect workers in industrial plants near Gaza and their representatives.

It held a meeting with the managers of factories from the Kibbutz Industries Association in order to guide and assist them in applying for investment. But the investment board, the organization says, is limited by law to helping only known establishments that deal in exports. Factories which sell their products in the domestic market alone have been left without assistance for protecting their workers.

According to the Kibbutz Industries Association chief executive, Udi Orenstein, the current situation creates an unreasonable discrimination because it is clear to all that there is no connection between the need for protection of workers and the place where a plant’s products are marketed. Director General of the Investment Authority, Nahum Itzkowitz, and his staff, Orenstein says, deserve praise for the decision to help enterprises from their budget, but now the government must find a way to finish the job and give similar aid to non-exporting enterprises.

Over the years, the area near Gaza has seen many security measures to protect people from attacks placed in in residential, educational institutions and other public places. According to Ornstein, the manufacturing plants were left out and are an Achilles’ heel for Israel’s security. The exception was in local initiatives of the owners of the facilities that invested in protecting their properties. Beyond the protection of human life, security measures will also allow for work to continue even in the midst of a conflict such as last summer’s.

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