Palestinian postal workers in the Occupied West Bank are tasked to sort through eight years of mail after Israel withheld delivery of postal shipments to Palestinian territories since 2010.
“We received tons of Palestinian mail because of the intolerance of the occupation authorities who refused to bring it through Jordan and as it is stamped for the Palestinian postal destination,” Hussein Sawafta, the director general of the Palestinian post service, told reporters Sunday.
The backlog was created following Israeli's rejection of the mail which reportedly violates a 2008 send-and-receive agreement with Palestinians, according to Palestinian postage official Ramadan Ghazawi.
“It was blocked because each time they (Israel) used to give us a reason and an excuse. Once they said the terminal, the building that the post was supposed to arrive to is not ready and once (they said) to wait, they're expecting a larger checking machine (security scanner),” Ghazawi explained.
The Palestinian ministry of telecommunications posted photos of the mail on its Facebook page. The tons of undelivered mail include letters, boxes and a wheelchair.
“After eight years it didn't come categorized as it is supposed to be, with lists and categorized. We got it all mixed.”
Cogat, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs in the West Bank, said there is no current agreement for this category of mail adding that the one-time release of the tons of mail was a “gesture.”
“About a year ago, an in-principle agreement was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The memorandum of understanding has not yet resulted in a direct transfer, and the subject is in the advanced stages of being worked through. There is, therefore, no direct mail transfer at this time,” the COGAT statement said.
“However, as a gesture, and in a step that went beyond the letter of the law, COGAT, with the assistance of the Ministry of Communications and the Customs Authority, allowed a one-time transfer of approximately ten-and-a-half tons of mail that had been held in Jordan.”
Letters or packages addressed to the West Bank and Gaza Strip are subject to Israeli security inspection.