Hamas: Foreigners now need visas to enter Gaza

Foreigners will have to apply online or through local sponsor a week before entry to get month-long visa.

By The Associated Press


Gaza’s Hamas rulers have imposed new entry restrictions requiring most foreigners to obtain a visa to enter the coastal territory. The group says the move is meant to ensure the security of foreigners, who enter either through Israel or Egypt.

Beginning Tuesday, foreigners must apply online or through a local sponsor a week before entry to obtain a month-long visa.

Ismail Haniyeh - Reuters - May 2, 2011 Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh speaking to the media during a news conference in Gaza City May 2, 2011.
Photo by: Reuters

The rules, posted on a Hamas website late Sunday, will apply mostly to aid workers and activists. A separate set of procedures for foreign journalists is still being completed.

The rules could make it difficult for international charities to function in Gaza. Many groups are barred from contact with Hamas because the U.S.¬ and EU consider it a terrorist group. Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

Hamas has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Last month, Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh accused Abbas of relinquishing Palestinian rights by seeking recognition for a state in the pre-1967 borders.

„The Palestinian people do not beg the world for a state, and the state can’t be created through decisions and initiatives,” Haniyeh said. „States liberate their land first and then the political body can be established.”