By Palestine Chronicle Staff
Gisha, Legal Center For Freedom of Movement, an Israeli organisation that advocates for the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the Palestinian Territories, said the number of permits granted to Palestinians by Israel have declined at the same level as before the Israeli offensive launched on Gaza in 2014.
“The number of exits by Palestinians through Erez Crossing during April was only 4,677, a drop of 23 percent compared to the low number recorded the previous month (only 6,078 exits), and a drop of 62 percent compared to the average monthly number of exits in 2016,” said Gisha.
Gisha noted that the Jewish holidays as well as Hamas’s temporary ban on travel following the assassination of one of its leaders in Gaza contributed to this decline. Yet, Gisha noted that the decline is part of an ongoing policy to tighten the Israeli siege; when comparing the same period of time with that of last year, where Jewish holidays also took place, statistics show a decline in the number of people who were granted permits.
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“Of the few people who meet Israel’s limited criteria for travel, the categories that saw the most drastic drop were medical patients and their companions and merchants,” Gisha continued.
Gisha concluded that merchants’ inability to travel leads to a damaged economy in Gaza, and contradicts statements made by Israeli officials in 2014 regarding the need for economic growth in Gaza. “Rather than finding ways to enable development by allowing Palestinians from Gaza to take advantage of opportunities to study, conduct business and expand trade and industry, Israel’s policy makes these options an increasing rarity,” Gisha noted.