Israel blocks passports from entering or exiting Gaza
Israel has blocked the movement of passports from Palestine to Gaza, preventing many residents of the besieged enclave from leaving to visit family members, study or work abroad, or even travel for urgent medical reasons.
The issuing or renewal of passports must be done in Ramallah, but occupation authorities do not consider passports to be humanitarian items, and have blocked their entry to Gaza.
Mail post has been prohibited from entering the Gaza since 8 May.
With the end of the recent fighting, defence minister Benny Gantz ordered that the inhumane blockade be restored, and that the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings close until the remains of Israelis are returned.
As a result, the only items allowed to cross into Gaza are of humanitarian nature, such as food and medicine, while residents can only leave for certain medical treatments.
As many as 10,000 people in Gaza are currently waiting for passports, or have been unable to renew their current passports, Wasim Mushtaha, head of the Association of Travel Agents and Tourism in Gaza, told Haaretz.
“Everything depends on the passports – travel arrangements, ordering flight tickets, making hotel reservations,” said Mushtaha.
“When there are no passports – we cannot do anything,” he added.
Mushtaha explained that around 5,000 passports are stuck at the interior ministry in Ramallah, while thousands of others are being held by travel agencies and require a visa stamp from consulates in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, or already have the required stamps but are having their passage to Gaza blocked.
As well as passports, Israel has banned the entry of checks and other bank documents, as well as signed legal documents and other authorisations from the Palestinian Authority.
In the most dire circumstances, the ban on mail to Gaza by the Israeli authorities has prevented people from travelling abroad for medical procedures that are not available in the besieged Strip.
A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories claims mail is being prevented from entering Gaza due to alleged security concerns.
“Due to security considerations and attempts to smuggle weapons and dual-use items, the transfer of postal items from Israel to the West Bank via the Erez border crossing is not possible at the moment. This is in accordance with the orders of the political leadership since the end of Operation Guardian of the Walls,” said the spokesperson, referencing the recent assault on Gaza in which more than 250 Palestinians were killed by indiscriminate Israeli bombing.