Life has been tough lately for people living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, what with the partial defunding of UNRWA, several embassies to Israel relocating to Jerusalem, and the temporary closure of the only pedestrian crossing into the Gaza Strip. Forget solving the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — they can't even get their mail.
On that front, at least, there's finally movement. After eight years of holding packages destined for Gaza and West Bank, Israel finally released 10.5 tons of mail in August.
Since 2010, packages labeled "Israel" went through Israeli customs and were delivered, but those labeled "Palestine" were routed through Jordan, where they gathered dust in a holding facility.
Israel didn’t answer VICE News’ question about why it blocked that mail from entering the Occupied Palestinian Territories for so long. But Abdelraof Shawka, a Palestine Post employee who’s been sorting through the tons of sometimes damaged or rotten packages, told VICE News that the issue is political.
“Any mail we receive addressed to the State of Israel wouldn't face any issue," Abdelraof told VICE News. "But anything with Palestine written on it, it's like a disease to them. They consider that an admittance of the State of Palestine.”
Abdelraof and other employees are now trying to get letters to their recipients as soon as possible. But as for a long-term solution, there isn’t one yet: Israel says the release was a one-time goodwill gesture, and is working on a permanent fix for the problem.
This segment originally aired September 5, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.