More ‘Gestures’: Israel Slashes Wait Time for PA Entry Permits

April 19, 2015  

In what appears to be yet another “gesture” to the Palestinian Authority, Israel has streamlined its admission policy for PA residents. Whereas formerly it took a PA resident several weeks to get an entry pass into Israel, the process has now been cut to hours.

Previously, each request was examined one at a time, and requests were forwarded to a central office, where they were processed and checked. Last September, a new computerized system was installed at checkpoints, with all records and data digitized, enabling security officials to check the status, record, and other important information associated with applicants. According to one official who spoke to Arutz Sheva, “all we need to do now is enter an applicant’s ID number into the computer and a short while later we receive the necessary clearance. If everything checks out, we can issue an entry pass within a very short time.”

The system can accurately check 500 identity numbers each time it is activated. The IDF issues some 20,000 such passes a day, mostly for workers, hospital patients, and others who need to travel to Israeli cities for personal needs.

The system is part of a major reorientation towards the PA, in which Israel has implemented numerous innovations to reduce friction and enhance the lives of PA Arabs. Last week, it was revealed that Israel had given permission to the PA to move caravans from Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria to Gaza. The caravan transports followed earlier reports that vehicles with PA license plates have been given permission to enter areas of Israel within the 1949 Armistice lines, a first in 15 years since the outbreak of the last major terror war from the region.

Permission for the caravan transport was given by General Yoav Mordechai, in charge of security coordination with the PA. In the first stage, four caravans were moved overnight Tuesday from Jericho to Gaza. Because of their size, the transport effort was be coordinated with Israel Police and conducted at night. Portions of several highways in southern Israel were closed while the caravans were being moved. The caravans were examined and let into Gaza on Wednesday morning.

With the successful conclusion of that “mission,” said Mordechai’s office, the program is set to continue. Some 100 caravans are slated to be moved.

Israel has also apparently relented on the import of concrete to Gaza. In the past, Israel has prevented such imports, because of the likelihood that Hamas, which controls Gaza, would again hijack the building materials meant for civilian use to construct smuggling and terror tunnels into Israel. However, PA sources last week Israel authorized the entry of 175 trucks carrying cement into Gaza, the most building materials allowed in at one time since the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge.

According to the PA sources, Israel is set to allow a similar amount of building material into Gaza at least once a week for the next three years.

In addition, Israel last week said it had “approved for Palestinian doctors who work shifts and other jobs that require heightened responsiveness in hospitals in Israel to enter Israel with their vehicles. For the first time since 2000, Palestinian vehicles are entering Israel,” COGAT said, adding that the move was aimed to “assist doctors in completing their life-saving mission.”

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