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Palestinians to get 10 tons of mail — eight years later

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Palestinian postal workers are busily sorting through more than 10 metric tons of mail that was held up by Israel over the past eight years, reported Deutsche Welle (Germany).

Israel has belatedly allowed the delivery of letters and packages after blocking direct transfers to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank since 2010. Much of the mail bound for the West Bank and Gaza has been held in Jordan.

Israel began occupying the West Bank after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and tightly controls all borders surrounding the Palestinian territories, enabling it to carry out comprehensive security checks.

Ramadan Ghazawy, a Palestinian postal official, said Israel failed to respect a 2008 agreement for the direct transfer of mail through Jordan. He said Israel kept making excuses, including claims that the mail facility wasn't ready, or that they were waiting for a larger security scanner.

A mountain of mail
Cogat, Israel's defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said the mail transfer was a one-time "gesture" but that plans to implement a 2016 agreement were underway. That agreement would allow direct international postal links to the West Bank.

Cogat did not explain on why the mail was held.

The mail is now at a postal facility in the West Bank city of Jericho. Wheelchairs and toys are included in the mountain of post.

"A team was formed from across the city (Jericho) to deliver (the mail) to the people as soon as possible," said Hussein Sawafta, director general of the Palestinian Post Service.

But some items will be difficult to deliver — either because boxes and letters have been damaged, and their contents lost — or because addresses have become illegible, according to Ramadan Ghazawy, the postal official.

"There are toys for kids," he told the Reuters news agency. "Maybe they were one year old when those gifts were sent. Now they are eight."

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