Attempts by Hamas to exploit entry permits given to Gazan residents by Israel are jeopardizing future crossings by Palestinians, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, has warned.
In an interview to the Al-Quds Palestinian newspaper, Mordechai said Hamas will force Israel to consider completely close the crossings to the Strip if attempts to recruit Gazans for terrorist missions do not cease.
Gazans requiring medical care or seeking business opportunities cross daily into Israel and the West Bank via the northern Erez crossing (while the southern Kerem Shalom crossing sees an average of between 400 and 500 trucks pass through every day, carrying tens of thousands of tons of goods).
Hamas’s “cynical exploitation of Israeli entry permits is forcing Israel to think twice before it issues permits to Gazans.
This situation will eventually lead to the closure of the Strip and the complete cessation of travel by Gazans from the Strip,” Mordechai warned.
He cited a cancer patient from Gaza’s Khan Yunis area who traveled to Nablus for medical care after receiving an Israeli permit, and was asked by Hamas to gather intelligence for it. A resident of Gaza’s Shati refugee camp who trades in Israel was apprehended by security forces while trying to smuggle goods for Hamas, according to the COGAT head.
“It appears as if Hamas is preparing itself for a military clash, and is not interested in serving the public in Gaza.
Hamas is trying to recruit merchants, and this sabotages Israel’s economic plan [to improve the Gazan economy and life for residents of the Hamas-run territory], and the passage of Gazans for prayer [at the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem] in Israel,” Mordechai said.
Since the cease-fire with Hamas went into effect in August 2014, Israel has adopted an economic aid plan, subject to its security assessments, and in 2015 issued more than 100,000 entry permits for Gazans to enter Israel for medical care, trade and Muslim prayers in Jerusalem.
Hamas charges taxes on Palestinians who pass through the crossings, using the money to build up its offensive capabilities rather than for the welfare of Gazans, Mordechai added.
Gaza’s unemployment rate stands at more than 40 percent.