Israel says Hamas recruits Gazans with travel permits for terror

timesofisrael

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) threatened in remarks published Tuesday to close all crossings with the Gaza Strip should Hamas continue to recruit workers entering Israel “for terrorist purposes.”

 

“Hamas is exploiting the permits given to workers, those going to the West Bank, and those going to Israel, for the purpose of terrorism,” the Palestinian daily Al-Quds quoted Major-General Yoav Mordechai as saying. “This is going to make the Israeli authorities think twice before issuing permits, and we will perhaps close the border for entry by all Gazans, if Hamas continues this policy.”

Mordechai did not elaborate on exactly how the permits were being used by Hamas in terror activities.

 

He continued: “It appears that Hamas is preparing for war and does not care for the well-being of Gazans. They are recruiting merchants, and this places an obstacle in the way of the economic plan put forward by the Israeli government and prevents those who come into Israel from praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque every Friday.”

 

A truck carrying cement is seen after it entered the southern Gaza Strip from Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah, on April 29, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

A truck carrying cement is seen after it entered the southern Gaza Strip from Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah, on April 29, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

This “Israeli plan,” he explained, “seeks to alleviate the economic hardship and support the economy in Gaza, but this is being exploited by Hamas, and this acts against the interest of Gazans.”

He added that “Following the last war in Gaza, Israel adopted a policy to stimulate the economy of Gaza” and “issued 100 thousand entry permits during the year 2015 — including for health, business, and religious reasons.”

According to a 2015 report, prepared ahead of the biannual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians, unemployment in Gaza increased in 2014 “to reach 44 percent — probably the highest in the world.”

This is in addition to the poverty rate in the Palestinian territory hovering around 39%, despite the fact that nearly four out of every five Gazans receive “some aid.”

“Gaza’s unemployment and poverty figures are very troubling and the economic outlook is worrying,” the World Bank quoted Palestinian territories director Steen Lau Jorgensen as saying.

For his part, Mordechai added “Hamas has imposed fees and taxes on all trucks that enter the strip, as well as on permits. These go towards supporting Hamas’s activities and building their capabilities rather than to building schools and institutions.”

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