Gaza patients forced to cover 'Palestine logo' to cross Erez
Published Thursday 13/02/2014 (updated) 15/02/2014 20:04
An Israeli army tank is seen at the Erez border crossing with
the Palestinian Gaza Strip on November 21, 2012.(AFP/Jack Guez)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian and Israeli civil liaison departments reached a deal on Thursday to allow patients from Gaza to enter Israel for medical treatment after earlier being denied access because their referral letters contained the "State of Palestine" logo.
Palestinian officials told Ma'an that the officials met Wednesday afternoon at the Erez crossing to try to find a temporary solution for patients seeking medical care.
A deal was reached to cross out the words "State of Palestine" on all official referral letters in order to allow patients entry to Israel, the officials said.
Over 190 patients were eventually allowed to cross into Israel and travel to the West Bank for medical treatment after the logo was blurred out.
On Wednesday, 70 patients who were scheduled to travel to the West Bank via the Erez crossing for treatment were denied entry because they presented documents including the "State of Palestine" on the letterheads.
"This is a political decision from the Israelis to exert pressure in the negotiations," a senior Palestinian official at the Gaza district coordination office said.
A spokesman for COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit responsible for coordinating civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, confirmed that the permits had been refused because they were submitted on stationary bearing the problematic logo.
The PLO declared independence unilaterally in 1988 and was recognized as a "non-member observer state" by the United Nations in 2012.
More than 130 countries today recognize Palestine's existence as a state, but Israel refuses to do so.
AFP contributed to this report