Palestinian postal workers sift through sacks of previously undelivered mail dating as far back as 2010, which has been withheld by Israel, at the central international exchange post office in the West Bank city of Jericho on August 14, 2018 pic.twitter.com/KWv7lS8PDc— Aya Isleem ???? #Gaza (@AyaIsleemEn) August 14, 2018
The state of Israel denied Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip letters and packages for up to eight years, resulting in a backlog of some 10 tons of mail and much heartache for Palestinians.
The parcels that are currently being sorted by Palestinian postal service employees dating from between 2010 and 2018 were prevented by Israel from entering the West Bank through Jordan but were released in a one-time deal, according to Palestinian officials.
The goods range from letters to loved ones, medicine packages and even wheelchairs for the disabled, reported AFP journalists at the sorting center in Jericho. Eight years worth of mail in bags was piled on top of each other as mail workers sorted through them in the oppressive heat.
Ramadan Ghazawi, an official at the mail sorting center said most of the parcels were sent from all over the world. Most of them were supplies ordered by the Palestinians who waited in vain for their arrival. One of the wheelchairs had a note that stated it was sent from Turkey in 2015 and was supposed to be delivered to the Gaza Strip.
Many of the goods were damaged and broken and Ghazawi said they will deliver them to the recipients stating Israel had delivered them in this condition.
Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, a unit of the Israeli Defense Ministry responsible for coordinating civilian issues said the release of the mail was part of a confidence building measure after Israel and Palestine agreed on a postal entry agreement a year ago.
Although the deal has not been implemented for future deliveries, it had “allowed a one-time transfer of approximately ten and a half tons of mail that had been held in Jordan.”
Palestinian Telecommunications Minister Allam Mousa accused Israeli authorities of blocking the delivery of essential mail and delaying to implement the deal on the postal services.
Ghazawi said Israel has said they blocked the items for security as well as administrative reasons.
The task of sorting and distributing the parcels is a daunting one. Ghazawi said the postal staff would need another two weeks to sort through the mail and send them to the recipients.
Israel has created a closure around West Bank and controls all entrances and exits into the area, preventing supplies from passing through it for whatever reasons.
Palestinians say the oppressive blockade has eroded their freedom of movement and crippled their economy.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem