Middle East

Rights group says Israel tightening restrictions on Gazans

An Israeli rights group has reported a sharp decline in the number of Palestinians Israel allows to enter from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, warning that tighter restrictions could fuel more hostilities.

Gisha, an Israeli group that advocates for greater freedom of movement for Gazans, says just 7,301 Gazans entered Israel last month, a 40 percent drop from February 2016 and one of the lowest monthly inflows since the 2014 Gaza war.

It says around two-thirds of Gaza businessmen and women have had their Israeli entry permits revoked since 2015.

The Israeli defense body COGAT says there have been numerous cases of Hamas "taking advantage of entry permits" to "smuggle money and weapons" to militants, and of the Islamic militant group "taking advantage of international aid."