[ … for some reason … ]
Israel has stopped issuing work permits to foreign aid workers
in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, sparking fears about the future of relief operations in the Palestinian territories.
The Israeli Interior Ministry has issued only tourist visas to aid groups such as Oxfam, Médecins sans Frontières and Save the Children since before Christmas. They say that their legal situation is now precarious and that some staff have been denied entry by Israeli border officials who also control all entry to the West Bank.
The move came amid pressure from right-wing Israeli groups to crack down on non-governmental organisations, which are often seen as having a political, anti-Israeli bias. Early last year an Israeli group, NGO monitor, forced the New York-based Human Rights Watch to suspend a weapons specialist who had written a scathing report on Israel’s use of white phosphorus during its Gaza offensive. The group tracked down anonymous comments that the researcher had made on online discussions for collectors of Nazi memorabilia.
Some left-wing Israeli groups have accused Israel of “declaring war” on foreign groups such as Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, which have been critical of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.