Israel revokes entry permits for 500 Gazans

Israel revokes entry permits for 500 Gazans
Purportedly in response to rocket fire, Israel has blocked hundreds of Palestinians from praying at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
3 min read
25 June, 2015
Gaza residents suffer from Israel's punitive measures [al-Araby]
Israel is revoking permits for 500 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to enter Jerusalem for Ramadan prayers due to rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave, Tel Aviv officials announced on Wednesday.

Israel continues to maintain strict control over the entry and exit of people and goods from Gaza, which is ruled by the Hamas Islamist movement and has been ravaged by three wars in the past six years, while being under near-total blockade.

Israel had eased restrictions on Palestinians from Gaza seeking to enter Jerusalem for Friday prayers at al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third-holiest site - allowing up to 800 Gazans to travel.

Israel said the 500 cancellations applied only to this week. A spokeswoman for COGAT, the defence ministry unit that coordinates Israeli affairs in occupied territory, told AFP the move was "because of the rockets".

Some Gaza residents called the punitive measure unfair and said they had no control over the militants firing rockets.

"This is not our fault," said Rabaea Abu Halima, a resident of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. "We do not want any rockets to be launched on Israel."
     This is not our fault. We do not want any rockets to be launched on Israel
- Rabaea Abu Halima, Beit Lahia resident

UN chief Ban Ki-moon further urged Israel to ease the restrictions.

Ban "encourages Israel to sustain and expand these confidence-building measures", Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council.

But the defence ministry had said the easing of restrictions was conditional on a continued lull in violence, which was initially broken late on Friday with the death of an Israeli hiker in the West Bank.

A police officer was stabbed in east Jerusalem on Sunday.

In response, Israel revoked entry permits for residents of the attacker's West Bank village.

It also cancelled permission for 500 West Bank Palestinians to fly via Israel's Ben Gurion airport.


Tuesday night's rocket firing was the fifth in just under a month.

It was claimed - like all recent firings on southern Israel - by an organisation which claims to be allied with the Islamic State group.

"Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem" recently emerged in Gaza amid increasing tensions between Hamas and other groups.

Israel, however, says it holds Hamas responsible for any fire from its territory.

Israeli aircraft hit Gaza following Tuesday's rocket attack, with Palestinian security sources saying the raid hit farmland in northern Gaza, causing no injuries or damage.

Israel went to war in Gaza last summer, with the aim of stamping out cross-border rocket and mortar attacks.

The 50-day conflict killed about 2,200 Palestinians, a majority of whom were civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.