Sacks of wheat from humanitarian groups, in Gaza.
Sacks of wheat from humanitarian groups, in Gaza. Israel’s blockade has been voided of content by Egypt’s opening of the Rafah crossing. Photo by Reuters
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Israel has started transferring pension payments to Gaza Strip residents who worked in Israel before the blockade was imposed on the strip, COGAT (the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories ), a Defense Ministry unit, said last week.

According to the arrangement reached by COGAT, the Interior Ministry and Palestinian Authority, Israel recently deposited a sum of NIS 1.6 million in the Bank of Palestine in Ramallah.

From there the money was forwarded to the bank accounts of 92 beneficiaries in the bank's Gaza branch.

Most of the beneficiaries used to work in Israeli hospitals and money had been deducted from their wages for their pension funds, as required by law.

The sum they have received so far was for covering old debts. From now on their pension allocation will be transferred to them regularly, under the arrangement.

A similar arrangement was made over a year ago to transfer some NIS 20 million in disability allocations from the National Insurance Institute to some 360 beneficiaries in Gaza.

After Hamas took over the Gaza Strip and Israel declared it a "hostile entity," ties between Israeli banks and Palestinian banks in Gaza were severed. Since then the authorities have had difficulty forwarding funds to some 1,000 Gaza residents who had previously been employed in Israel.

Palestinians can now submit forms in Arabic

In another development, the High Court of Justice ruled last week that Palestinians may submit any official application to the IDF's Civil Administration in Arabic.

The ruling came in response to a petition filed by the HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual and a Hebron resident, whom the Civil Administration chief told she must fill out official forms in Hebrew.

The State Prosecution told the court that a letter sent three months ago from the Civil Administration chief's office to HaMoked, saying it would only deal with applications in Hebrew, was "a mishap." The letter "conveyed erroneous positions that do not reflect the respondents' position," the prosecution said.

All district coordination and liaison officials will enable Palestinians seeking their services to submit applications in Hebrew, Arabic or English, the prosecution said.

Contrary to the letter sent by the Civil Administration last December suggesting that Palestinians hire Palestinian "typists" and translators to assist them, the prosecution said the Civil Administration staff will translate the applications into Hebrew when necessary.