Mail held 8 years by Israel finally reaches Palestinians in West Bank

Palestinians receive mail blocked by Israel
Palestinians receive mail blocked by Israel 02:01

For the first time in eight years, Palestinians are receiving international mail. Letters, packages, presents and even a wheelchair have arrived in the West Bank after Israel released 10 tons of undelivered mail to the Palestinian territory.

A dusty mailroom in Jericho buzzed back to life as thousands of mail sacs from around the world were sifted through and sorted, reports CBS News' Jonathan Vigliotti. They were then loaded onto scooters and ferried through the winding streets of Ramallah to their final destinations.

Recipients like father Khaled Al-Adaman looked like they'd just received a message in a bottle. He thought the now-old back-to-school backpack for his daughter was long lost. In a way, it's survived stormy seas.

More than 10 tons of mail had been held in Jordan since 2010 because Israel -- which controls the West Bank's borders -- wouldn't allow its transfer.

Postman Ramadam Ghazawy now acts as an investigator, piecing together addresses faded by time.

"Some of them were damaged. Some of them have no identifiers or addresses," he said. "It takes for me and my colleagues maybe two weeks. I hope [in] two weeks we will finish it all."

Israel calls the mail transfer a one-time gesture as it works to implement a 2016 agreement that would allow a direct delivery between the West Bank and Jordan. For now, extra mail carriers have been hired to handle the backlog.

In the West Bank, progress like these deliveries is a long time coming.