East Jerusalem Sees No Mail Delivery for 2 Weeks, Residents Say

Postal service says temporary staff shortage there led to mail backup.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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The settlement of Nof Tzion, on the outskirts of Jabal Mukkaber in East Jerusalem.Credit: Eyal Toueg
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

East Jerusalem’s main post office hasn’t delivered mail to post-office boxes for more than two weeks, Palestinian residents of the area say.

The residents include businessmen who check their boxes every day. Many say they’ve been waiting for checks, bills, visas and other documents that haven’t arrived.

The postal service said it was short-staffed for a time and mail was backed up.

Khaled Abu Odeh, who works for a marketing company, told Haaretz that while he was surprised to find his family’s post-office box empty for a long period, for the first week or so he thought it was mere chance. Next he suspected that someone was stealing their mail.

But then he discovered that other people, too, hadn’t received anything for two weeks.

Residents received no warning, oral or written, that mail deliveries were to be suspended.

Because mail isn’t delivered directly to houses in East Jerusalem, some 200,000 Palestinian residents of the city depend on post-office boxes. These boxes are located at several different post offices, but the largest is the one on Salah-a-Din Street - the one Abu Odeh has been visiting every day.

Abu Odeh said that he and many other East Jerusalem Palestinians generally prefer to mail their letters from post offices in Jewish neighborhoods because experience has taught them that letters sent from Jewish areas of the city reach their destination much faster.

He said he tried several times to find out why mail deliveries had stopped. He said he heard indirectly that it was due to the recent downsizing at the postal service.

On Sunday he was able to speak directly with the manager and deputy manager of the Salah-a-Din Street office. He said they promised him that deliveries would resume within 48 hours.

The downsizing has also resulted in a significant drop in the number of postal clerks serving the public at East Jerusalem post offices, he added.

A spokeswoman for the postal company denied that mail deliveries in East Jerusalem had been suspended.

“Because of a temporary shortage of manpower, there was a backlog in delivering the mail,” she said. “Because of this, that office was beefed up with additional staff, and the office has resumed normal operations.

“Any claim of cutbacks due to the branch’s location is incorrect and baseless.”