Gaza travellers hit by passport shortage

Gaza's 1.4 million largely confined Palestinians are facing a new travel restriction: The Hamas administration has run out of passports. The rival Western-backed Palestinian government in the West Bank has suddenly stopped sending the documents to Gaza. The official explanation is that passport paper hasn't arrived from specialist printers in France. But passports are still being issued in the West Bank, and few doubt that the real reason is to punish Gaza's militant rulers. The document debacle is just the latest dispute in the bitter rivalry between the radical Islamic Hamas and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas seized Gaza by force last summer. Israeli and Egyptian border closures have confined most Gazans to their narrow strip of land.