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New Israeli restrictions on Palestinians exiting the blockaded Gaza Strip, including a ban on laptops, hard-shell suitcases and even shampoo and toothpaste, have further disrupted travel for the lucky few who are allowed to cross the border into Israel.For those affected, the restrictions are unfair, inexplicable and mean new headaches in the struggles of daily life in Gaza.The ban, which took effect on Aug. 1, applies to all Palestinians who want to travel to Israel, or through Israel to the occupied West Bank and neighboring Jordan.Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 and routed forces loyal to the internationally recognized government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the following year. Israel, accusing Hamas of trying to exploit travelers to carry money or information to its agents abroad, has imposed a series of restrictions in recent years that has limited the flow of people across the border.The restrictions mean that the vast majority of Gaza's 2 million residents remain trapped in the impoverished territory.
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