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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Israel announces closure of Gaza's Erez Industrial Zone

The Israeli factories will be relocated to Ashkelon, Sderot
JPost: The joint Israeli-Palestinian Erez industrial zone, in the northern entrance to the Gaza Strip, will be closed down and its factories relocated to several other locations in the south of the country, including in Ashkelon and Sderot, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Tuesday.

Speaking on a tour in the southern town of Sderot, Olmert said that by relocating the factories of the industrial zone, more job opportunities would be available for many unemployed Israelis in the south.

Olmert said that following the cabinet's approval of the disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip on Sunday, he decided to go ahead with the evacuation of the Israeli factories operating in the Erez industrial zone.

The instable security situation in the area, Olmert said, resulted in the past months in large financial loses for Israeli factory owners.

Half of the 201 existing factories in the industrial zone are Israeli owned. In the past, some 4,000 Palestinian workers and 350 Israeli workers were employed in the various factories.

Druze village heads called upon owners of textile industries in the Erez industrial zone to shift their enterprises back to Galilee villages. They are offering long-term tax breaks to the industrialists.

Yarka Regional Council representative Mahmoud Ramel proposed that the Ministry for Trade, Industry and Labor offer grants and benefits to those plants that relocate to Druze villages.