For First Time in 15 Years, Private Palestinian Vehicles to Be Allowed Into Israel

Physicians and medical workers with difficult hours will be allowed to drive in, as was the case before the second intifada in 2000.

Reuters

Palestinian doctors and medical staff who work irregular and on-call hours at Israeli hospitals will once again be allowed to enter Israel in their own cars, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said this week.

COGAT, which approved the change, said in a statement this would be the first time since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000 that Israel was letting private Palestinian cars into the country.

COGAT said the doctors and medical staff would be issued permits by the Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration, which deals with civilian affairs in the West Bank. Each doctor and medical worker also needs the approval of the security authorities.

“This is a significant step intended to help the doctors do their jobs and save lives. Its success will be judged based on the security situation,” said the head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. David Menachem.

COGAT officials said that in the next few months they would consider expanding the order to include businesspeople, though this would only cover the West Bank, not the Gaza Strip.

The latest move follows a number taken since October to make life easier for the Palestinians, the officials said. This includes an increased number of Israeli work permits for Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority did not comment on the move, though a government official said Israel “acts only according to its own interests.”