Israel Accuses Hamas of Misusing Gaza Crossings, Threatens to Shut Border

Coordinator of government activities in the territories: Hamas is recruiting laborers, businessmen and medical patients with permits to enter Israel.

A gas tanker approaching the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip, from Israel. The transport of certain types of construction-related goods into the Strip is illegal.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, has threatened that Israel will seal border crossings with the Gaza Strip due to the recruitment of businessmen, laborers and patients from the Strip entering Israel “for purposes of terror.”

In an interview published on Tuesday morning in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, Mordechai said that Hamas is trying to take advantage of the permits given to laborers traveling to the West Bank, and is forcing Israel to repeatedly weigh the issuing of permits to Gaza residents. He said that ultimately this situation will lead to a closure of the Strip and a complete cessation of permits to enter Israel.

Mordechai brought several examples of Gaza residents who were exploited by Hamas and caught by Israeli security forces. He told about a cancer patient from Khan Yunis who goes for medical treatments in Nablus and was asked to transmit information to terrorist groups there. In another instance, a resident of the Shati refugee camp who does business in Israel was caught engaged in smuggling attempts for Hamas.

Every day Gaza residents enter Israel for work, business and medical treatments. The Erez crossing, which is used for the transit of people, and the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is used for goods, are the main crossings that are open most of the year. The unemployment rate in Gaza is over 41 percent.

“Hamas is planning a military conflict and isn’t interesting in serving the public in the Strip,” said Mordechai. “Hamas is trying to recruit businessmen, and that is... preventing Gaza residents from going to pray in Israel.”

According to Mordechai, “In the wake of the last military campaign Israel adopted a plan to assist the economy of the Strip, subject to a security situation assessment, and in 2015 issued over 100,000 permits for Gazans to enter Israel for medical care, commerce and prayer. Hamas, for its part, imposes taxes on movement at the crossings and puts the money into its pocket for the purpose of building up its strength rather than for the residents’ welfare.”