Israel to permit Jerusalem Palestinians to visit Gaza

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israel will allow Palestinian business executives from Jerusalem to visit the Gaza Strip for the first time in years, a defence ministry body said Tuesday.

COGAT, the Israeli agency that oversees civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, said it would allow in small numbers of businesspeople from annexed east Jerusalem looking to invest in the coastal territory.

Israel controls most access into and out of the Gaza Strip and has imposed a blockade on the Palestinian enclave for a decade.

But in an Arabic-language Facebook post late Monday, COGAT said it would allow in "businessmen and others who want to improve and strengthen the economy, infrastructure and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip".

It said up to 150 people would be permitted to enter at a time.

Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs Gaza, have fought three wars since 2008.

Israel argues its blockade is necessary to control Hamas, but the United Nations and others warn the blockade amounts to collective punishment of the strip's two million residents.

Egypt also has a border with Gaza which it has largely closed off in recent years.