Israel resumes parcel post into Gaza

Jerusalem: Israel has begun allowing parcels to be sent to Gaza again, officials said today, months after a ban over allegations the Palestinian enclave’s Hamas rulers were using them to smuggle weapons.

“It was decided yesterday to renew the postal services for packages into the Gaza Strip,” said a statement from COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry unit that implements government policies in the Palestinian territories.

It said the ban had been a result of multiple attempts by Islamist movement Hamas, which runs Gaza, to “smuggle materials for terror purposes, including knives, drones (and) spy equipment.”

The statement did not say when the ban came into force but Palestinian border authorities said it had been in place for five months.

COGAT said that letters and documents had not been affected by the ban.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and the strip has been under an Israeli blockade for around a decade.

UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating conditions in the enclave of some two million people.

Israeli authorities say it is necessary to prevent Hamas from obtaining weapons or the materials to make them.