Israeli authorities have granted 500 Palestinians from Gaza three-day permits to visit Jerusalem over the Eid al-Adha holiday, an official said Wednesday.
A Palestinian liaison official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Ma’an that this was the first time Israel had granted visitor permits to such a large number of Gazans since Hamas took power in the Strip in 2007.
The Palestinians are all over the age of 60 and will be allowed to visit Jerusalem from Sunday to next Tuesday, he said.
In the same regard, the Israeli news site Ynet reported that Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah met with a top Israeli official late Tuesday to discuss changes in restrictions on Gaza.
Hamdallah and the unnamed Israeli official reportedly discussed the possibility of Palestinians from Gaza being granted permits to visit Jerusalem for religious services during Muslim holidays.
They also discussed the possibility of Israel allowing produce and goods from the Strip to be exported to the West Bank and easing restrictions that prevent Gazans from studying in the West Bank and abroad, Ynet reported, citing anonymous officials.
Palestinians from Gaza, to an even greater extent than West Bankers, are normally barred from visiting occupied East Jerusalem, even though it is internationally recognized as Palestinian territory and home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites.
Israel and Egypt have besieged the tiny Palestinian enclave since Hamas took power in the Strip in 2007 after winning democratic elections.
The siege has severely restricted freedom of movement for Gaza’s 1.8 million people and limited imports and exports, crippling the economy.
Ending the blockade was the primary demand of Palestinian resistance factions who fought Israeli forces in a bloody 50-day war in July and August. The violence left nearly 2,200 Gazans dead, most of whom were civilians killed by Israeli air and artillery strikes.
Israel agreed to ease its blockade on the Strip in an Aug. 26 ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt, but up until now very few changes on the ground have been evident.
(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)