Israel tightening noose on Gaza telecom sector: Minister

RAMALLAH – Palestinian Communication Minister Safa Nasser has accused Israel of tightening the noose around the local communication sector in the besieged Gaza Strip.

"Israel has confiscated equipment belonging to mobile phone operator Wataniya Telecom," Nasser told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

She said that Israeli authorities had suspended an earlier decision to allow Palestinian firms to provide third-generation (3G) mobile telecommunications technology.

The latest restriction is part of a raft of Israel-imposed penalties against the Palestinian Authority (PA) following a recent decision by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to sign 15 applications for Palestinian membership in various U.N. agencies and conventions.

Abbas signed the applications last week in response to an Israeli refusal to release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.

According to Nasser, the new Israeli restrictions have already cost Palestinians some $200 million in losses.

She said that her ministry had asked the International Telecommunication Union to pressure Israel to reverse its restrictions on the Palestinian telecom sector.

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