File - In this Oct. 16, 2015 file photo, Palestinian demonstrators hurl stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes at the entrance of Erez border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
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For the past four years, Gaza hairdresser Safa al-Masri has obtained a travel permit from Israel to visit her relatives in the occupied West Bank.Masri is among a growing number of people who have been ordered to submit to Israeli interrogations in order to receive a coveted travel permit to exit the blockaded Gaza Strip.According to statistics compiled by Gisha, an Israeli advocacy group that pushes for freedom of movement for Gaza's 1.8 million residents, 1,211 Gazans were summoned to the Erez border crossing for Israeli security interrogations during the first half of the year.Israel's Shin Bet security agency blamed Hamas for the interrogations, saying the group had repeatedly tried to exploit travelers, including medical patients traveling in ambulances, to help build up its "terror infrastructure" in Israel and the West Bank.Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas, an armed group sworn to Israel's destruction, seized control of the territory from the Palestinian Authority in 2007 . Israel and Hamas have since fought three wars.In addition to the increased interrogations, Gisha Thursday reported a significant jump in the number of permits either revoked or rejected by Israeli authorities over the last year.
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