GAZA CITY (AFP) – The Hamas-run government in Gaza said on Wednesday it would begin requiring all Palestinians wishing to enter Israel from the besieged territory to obtain permits three days in advance.
“Those wishing to travel through the Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing must obtain permission three days before the date of travel,” the Hamas-run interior ministry said, referring to the sole pedestrian crossing into Israel.
The new measure would only apply to Palestinians and not to foreigners, the ministry said. Erez is the main crossing used by diplomats, aid workers, and journalists traveling between Gaza and Israel.
The ministry said it would also require members of security forces and civil servants employed by the West Bank-confined Palestinian Authority to obtain permits before travelling to Egypt via the Rafah crossing.
In recent months Hamas has ramped up security measures at Erez, setting up checkpoints to search bags and register the names and passport numbers of foreigners and Palestinians entering the territory.
The Islamist movement seized control of Gaza in June 2007 after a week of bloody clashes in which it drove out forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, confining his rule to the West Bank.
Since then Israel has imposed strict sanctions on Gaza, limiting imports to vital humanitarian aid and severely limiting travel into or out of the territory. Egypt has largely cooperated with the closures.