and would look favorably upon their applications for exit permits, a
change from the near total Israeli ban on movement out of Gaza, the Hamas-controlled coastal strip, since late 2007.
The officials said the decision had been made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak
in the aftermath of the embarrassing misunderstanding with the American
State Department last week that resulted in the cancellation of
Fulbright grants to Gaza and then a hurried reinstatement of them. The
officials, from the Defense Ministry, spoke on the condition they not
be identified by name.