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Palestinians receive 10 tonnes of letters Israel withheld for 8 years

A Palestinian postal worker among the mail at a sorting office in Jericho, West Bank, August 16. (Photo by EPA)

Palestinian people living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are set to receive a special delivery of some 10.5 tonnes of letters and postal packages that the Tel Aviv regime had kept for up to eight years.

"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.

Postal workers in the West Bank city of Jericho sorted through scores of mail sacks that Israeli authorities had finally allowed to enter the city through the border with Jordan.

The Palestinian ministry of telecommunications posted photos of the letters on its Facebook page, showing large piles of letter bags in a room as employees worked on them.

An Israeli post worker prepares piles of 8-year-old Palestinian letters before their much-delayed delivery. (Photo by EPA)

Ramadan Ghazawy, a Palestinian postal official, said even after many years of delay, the Israeli side had done a poor job of classifying the mail.

"After eight years it didn't come categorized as it is supposed to be, with lists and categorized. We got it all mixed."

From toys to wheelchairs

Family photographs and personal letters as well as medicine were among the delayed packages. Other shipments also included children’s toys to wheelchairs for the disabled.

The letters were kept in Jordan since 2010 because Israel refused to let any sort of direct transfer to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Palestinian officials said.

A wheelchair that Israeli post officials withheld from its Palestinian receiver for 8 years. (Photo by EPA)

Any letter or package that is addressed for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, undergoes Israeli security inspection first.

Israeli authorities claimed that this was not going to happen in future as moves were under way to implement a 2016 agreement that allows direct international mail flow to the West Bank.

However, Palestinian telecommunications minister Allam Mousa said Israel was delaying the agreement’s implementation and still blocked mail directly through Jordan, and therefore violating international resolutions.

"A team was formed from across the city (Jericho) to deliver (the mail) to the people as soon as possible," said Sawafta.

Delivery problems

Ghazawy said delivering the mails was going to be difficult and even impossible in some cases due to the damage the boxes and the envelopes had sustained over these years, while the addresses on others had worn off.

"There are toys for kids. Maybe they were one year old when those gifts were sent. Now they are eight," Ghazawy said.

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