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Gazans Refused Entry to Israel over 'State of Palestine' Papers

Defense Ministry confirms patients were turned away for incorrectly-marked papers, but says urgent cases allowed through.
By Tova Dvorin and AFP
First Publish: 2/12/2014, 6:32 PM

Checking documents (illustrative)
Checking documents (illustrative)
Flash90

Several Palestinian Arabs from Gaza complained that they had been prevented from entering Israel for medical care over documents they intentionally marked with the wrong terms. 

According to AFP, 70 Palestinian Arab patients from Gaza were prevented from crossing into Israel after they intentionally marked their documents as "State of Palestine" instead of "Palestinian Territories." 

The term "Palestinian Territories" has been used for years in documentation between Hamas-controlled Gaza and Israel. 

However, sources in Gaza claimed Wednesday that the logo was changed after the UN accepted 'Palestine' as an observer state in 2012 - even though the recognition was granted to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which administers parts of Judea and Samaria, and not the Hamas administration which rules Gaza. 

But Hamas officials said it was Israeli authorities who were playing politics.

"This is a political decision from the Israelis to exert pressure in the negotiations," a senior Palestinian Arab official at the Gaza-based Document Coordination Office complained to AFP.  "The Israeli side informed us that following a decision from COGAT, they won't give any permits to any patients with that logo." 

Israel regularly allows medical patients from the territory, whose leadership has threatened Israel with genocide, to cross into Israel for treatment - between 40-70 people per day. 

A spokesman for COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit responsible for coordinating civilian affairs in Gaza and the PA, confirmed that the permits had been refused because they were submitted on stationary bearing the problematic logo.

"Upon receiving the documents stamped 'State of Palestine', it was decided to return them to the DCO without considering them and demand they be refiled
in the accepted way," he said in a statement sent to AFP.

He did explain, however, that several of the more urgent cases were approved despite the mix-up and sent for treatment anyway.