Israel shuts cargo crossing into Gaza amid rising hostilities

Aaron Brown
July 18, 2018

Meanwhile, on Monday evening, Israel announced it would again close the Kerem Shalom crossing, the only crossing for commercial goods and the main crossing for humanitarian aid between Israel and Gaza, after a rocket was sacked into southern Israel earlier in the day despite a cease fire declared by Hamas late Saturday night.

Netanyahu visited a local kindergarten and pledged that Israel would put an end to the rocket fire and a Gaza militant campaign of flying incendiary kites and balloons across the border that have ignited fires damaging Israeli farms and nature reserves.

Israel also halved Gaza fishermen's zone to three nautical miles.

The Israeli premier also quashed any rumors that Israel would not respond to the so-called terror kites that have been flown over the border in recent months, sparking thousands of fires.

The tightening of the blockade comes after the heaviest exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war on Saturday. An ultra-nationalist Israeli group has published a video accusing the heads of four Israel's leading human rights organisations, including "Breaking the Silence", of being "foreign agents" funded by Europe and supporting Palestinians "involved in terrorism".

Israel had already closed the crossing last week, but humanitarian supplies were still permitted to enter.

In the other direction "more than 60 rockets" were fired at southern Israel from Gaza, the Israeli military said, of which "approximately 10 rockets were intercepted".

"Closing Gaza's major crossing for movement of goods, the main lifeline for nearly two million people, half of whom are children, constitutes an illegal and immoral act of collective punishment", they said.

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The Israeli military said Friday's protesters were throwing burning tyres, stones, explosive devices and fire bombs at its soldiers and that one of its officers was wounded by a Palestinian grenade hurled across the border fence.

The Israeli army said air strikes carried out in the morning hit "complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror training facility".

Palestinians in Gaza view the balloons and kites as legitimate resistance against Israel's more than a decade-long blockade.

Reiterating a sentiment he had expressed on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, "To us, there is no such thing as a ceasefire that excludes the incendiary kites and balloons".

More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the protests.

Rights group have criticized the new law, saying it is Israel's latest attempt to stifle dissent by delegitimizing rights groups and NGOs.

The weekend's violence came after months of near-weekly border demonstrations aimed in part to protest the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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