Friday, July 20
Latest News
  1. Israeli forces kill 4 Palestinians, injure 120 others in Gaza Strip
  2. Israeli settlers attack, assault peaceful hiking group in Ramallah
  3. Fire balloon lands in Jerusalem-area settlement
  4. Lieberman threatens Gaza with 'wide scale, painful military operation'
  5. Thousands of Syrians evacuated from besieged villages
  6. Greenblatt attacks Hamas via Arabic-language tweets
  7. Israeli settlers perform religious rituals in Hebron villages
  8. Jordan intervenes to prevent Israeli minister's visit to Al-Aqsa
  9. Abbas: 'Jerusalem is the everlasting capital of Palestine'
  10. Israeli airstrikes kill Palestinian youth, wound 3 others

Israel imposes 'laptop ban' on Palestinians leaving Gaza Strip

Aug. 10, 2017 6:23 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 10, 2017 9:20 P.M.)
Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem (MaanImages/Anna Kokko, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel has reportedly imposed a new wave of restrictions on Palestinians traveling in and out of the besieged Gaza Strip, where residents have suffered under countless bans and restrictions for over a decade, owing to Israel’s land, air, and sea blockade on Gaza.

Israeli news website Ynet reported that the new set of restrictions include a ban on laptop computers, hard-shell suitcases, toiletries such as shampoo and toothpaste, and food -- except for medical patients who need food for personal consumption.

According to Ynet, Israeli officials have cited unspecified “security reasons,” a common Israeli practice when it comes to imposing restrictions on Palestinian movement throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.

The news outlet added that everyone from engineers, journalists, businesspeople and human rights workers -- so long as they are Palestinian -- are subject to the bans, while foreigners would be exempt.

“Israel has in the past stated its fears that explosive devices could be smuggled in using such electronic items,” Ynet said, adding that “such bans and restrictions have been enacted in the US and EU countries due to intelligence indicating that terror groups such as ISIS have used them to smuggle explosives.”

Ynet, however, did not mention that such bans in the US and UK only restrict the carry on of laptops and large mobile devices on-board flights departing from a number of airports -- mostly from the Middle East and Africa -- while passengers can then pick up their devices after their flights and proceed to enter the country to which they are travelling.

The Israeli ban, as it has been reported, would prevent any Palestinian leaving Gaza from carrying laptops with them, and would force students, businesspeople, and a range of other Palestinians to leave their electronic devices behind in a place where being able to travel in and out of is not always guaranteed, and is subject to the control of Israel’s strict permit regime.

According to Ynet, the ban took effect on August 1, and “applies to all Palestinians (leaving Gaza) who want to travel to Israel, or through Israel to the West Bank and neighboring Jordan.”

The report came on the same day that COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, announced a new “initiative to encourage investment” in the Gaza Strip.

A spokesperson for COGAT said in a statement that as of Aug. 7, Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem would be able to visit the Gaza Strip with special Israeli permission.

The statement highlighted that "businessmen and others who want to help improve economy, infrastructures, and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip will be allowed to visit Gaza."

A COGAT spokesperson told Ma’an that the measure is intended to “encourage businesspeople to invest in Gaza.”

While the policy seemingly marked a slight ease in strict Israeli policies that control who enters and leaves the besieged coastal enclave, the new measures would still require that Israeli authorities evaluate whoever has the intention of “wanting to help” improve Gaza’s economy and humanitarian situation.

With the new laptop ban, any real prospect of Palestinian businesspeople traveling to the besieged coastal enclave to work to improve Gaza’s economic situation, became even more slim.

The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli land, air, and sea blockade for 10 years, while three Israeli offensives since 2008 have caused extensive damage to Gaza’s water, sanitation, energy, and medical infrastructure, and destroyed thousands of homes.

Israel has also maintained stringent restrictions on goods allowed inside Gaza as part of its blockade, arguing that construction material such as cement could be used by Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups for military purposes.

As of August 2016, some 50 percent of the buildings that were completely destroyed during the devastating 2014 war were still awaiting reconstruction, while an April 2016 UN report estimated that 75,000 Palestinians were still homeless nearly two years after the latest war.

Last month, United Nations Coordinator for humanitarian aid and development activities in the occupied Palestinian territory Robert Piper told Ma’an that the international community needed “to move fast” to stave off an already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza, five years after the UN warned that the small Palestinian territory would be “unlivable” by 2020.

Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2018