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Israeli authorities revoke permits of senior Civil Affairs officials from Gaza

Oct. 19, 2016 7:46 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 20, 2016 2:46 P.M.)
Palestinians walk through the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip, on June 09, 2010. (AFP/Mahmud Hams, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities revoked Israeli-issued exit permits for 12 senior officials in the Gaza Strip’s Civil Affairs Administration on Wednesday, according to Israeli media, just one week following the revocation of the majority of permits issued for Palestinian civil affairs employees in the besieged enclave.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that some of the senior officials who had their permits revoked had been working in the Ministry of Civil Affairs for at least 10 years.

The cancellation of permits came just one week after Israeli authorities revoked the majority of permits for civil affairs employees in the Gaza Strip.

Public Information Officer for the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs in the Gaza Strip Muhammad al-Maqadma told Ma’an last week that while Israeli authorities did not provide reasons for the cancellation of permits, he saw the move as representative of a new Israeli policy taking shape against the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.

Al-Maqadma was referring to the so-called carrot and stick approach developed by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in which Israeli authorities would focus on building relationships with Palestinian citizens while bypassing Palestinian political institutions.

Al-Maqadma said the new policy was first sparked after Israeli authorities began obstructing the passage of Palestinian traders and those seeking medical treatment outside of the small Palestinian territory -- groups who were typically allowed to exit the Gaza Strip.

Israeli authorities as of last week had cancelled 97 percent of permits for employees who had previously been responsible for escorting Palestinian worshipers and travelers from Gaza to the Allenby Bridge between the West Bank and Jordan, al-Maqadma added.

Al-Maqdama said that he has experienced a “different mood” with how Israeli authorities were handling permits for Gaza’s public employees, adding that the denial of permits for medical patients and traders marked a clear change in Israeli policy, while those permitted to leave Gaza have reportedly undergone interrogation sessions by Israeli forces while attempting to pass Israeli-controlled crossings.

A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the Palestinian territory, told Ma’an that there was no change in policy related to the coordination between Israeli authorities and Gaza’s civil affairs committee.

“Security bodies have recently decided to reexamine the entry permits of all those who travel to Israel from the Gaza Strip, including members of the civil affairs committee,” the spokesperson said. However, the spokesperson added that coordination between Israeli authorities and the civil affairs committee in Gaza was “going on regularly.”

Due to the constraints on Palestinian movement, the majority of Gazans are commonly barred from leaving or entering the besieged coastal enclave.

The near decade-long Israeli blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s more than 1.8 million Palestinians into extreme poverty and some of the highest unemployment rates in the world.
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