Haaretz newspaper said Friday that Israel recently tightened its blockade on the Gaza Strip and reduced exit permits for the population, especially for merchants and businessmen. According to Haaretz, the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence, has cancelled, in recent months, regular exit permits for about 1,400 merchants of some 3,700 businessmen who already received long-term exit permits in recent years.
In another step that has also an immediate and very damaging effect on Gaza’s economy and the efforts to rehabilitate it, the Shin Bet has started to bar certain businessmen from importing their merchandise into Gaza.
The Shin Bet refuses to give any explanation for banning the entry of certain imports to Gaza and only describes the measure as “taken for security reasons.”
Others who are also affected by Israel’s growing movement restrictions and travel bans in Gaza include senior officials in charge of infrastructure and rehabilitation, doctors and academics who take in-service training courses and exams in the West Bank, people with medical conditions, those with families abroad and in the West Bank, and workers for international humanitarian groups and diplomatic missions.
The policy of canceling permits or refusing to renew them has escalated since last February, although it started in 1991, according to the newspaper.