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Palestinians sort through 8 years of mail held by Israel

Palestinian postal workers sifted through eight years' worth of undelivered mail held by Israel at the post office in the West Bank city of Jericho on Sunday.Nasser Shiyoukhi/Associated Press

JERICHO, West Bank — Palestinian postal workers in the West Bank are sifting through eight years’ worth of undelivered mail held by Israel.

In recent days the staff in Jericho has been sorting through tons of undelivered mail in a room packed with letters, boxes, and even a wheelchair.

The Palestinians say Israel has withheld mail shipments to the Palestinian territories through its national postal service since 2010.

According to Palestinian postal official Ramadan Ghazawi, Israel did not honor a 2008 agreement with the Palestinians to send and receive mail directly through Jordan. Mail was indeed delivered through Jordan but was denied entry by Israel, causing a yearslong backlog.


‘‘It was blocked because each time they [Israel] used to give us a reason and an excuse, he said, including problems with facilities and mail scanners.

Israel says the sides came to an understanding about a year ago on postage delivery but that it has not yet resulted in a ‘‘direct transfer,’’ according to Cogat, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs in the West Bank, which said the one-time release of the 10½ tons of mail was a ‘‘gesture.’’

In a separate development Sunday, Israel’s Supreme Court doubled the sentence of a former border policeman who was convicted in the death of a stone-throwing Palestinian teenager in 2014.

The court upheld a state appeal for a longer sentence, extending Ben Deri’s imprisonment from nine months to 18 months. The Jerusalem District Court ruled in April that Deri unjustly opened fire during demonstrations in the West Bank, killing 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara.

The postal issue highlights the tight controls Israel maintains over even the mundane aspects of Palestinian life.

Jericho resident Rami Baker said ordering goods by mail has been a challenge.

‘‘The problem that I suffer from is that the mail is very delayed. For example you order something and the website will tell you it will arrive within 20 to 30 days and after 30 days you get a note that it reached Jerusalem or Israel,’’ Baker said.


“After that, a day or two later, we come and check with the Palestinian post office here in Jericho and they say we did not receive it yet from the Israeli side and this thing takes months,’’ he said.