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News > World

Israel Cuts Off Goods to Gaza Over Kites Harming Crops

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, July 8, 2018.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, July 8, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 July 2018
Opinion

UN officials and rights activists have repeatedly called for Israel to lift the blockade against Gaza, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

Israel closed its only goods crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday over weeks of fires at farms caused by kites and balloons carrying firebombs from the Palestinian enclave.

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"The crossing will be closed except for humanitarian equipment (including food and medicine) that will be approved on an individual basis," Israel's military said in a statement. "No exports or marketing of goods will be carried out from the Gaza Strip."

It added that the move was also due to "additional terror attempts," referring to infiltrations and other incidents along the Gaza border. The crossing, known as Kerem Shalom, is to remain closed until further notice.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman had agreed to be "heavy-handed with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip — immediately." "There will be additional steps. I will not go into details," he said in parliament.

The Hamas, which governs locally the Gaza Strip, denounced the closure as a "crime against humanity." "Hamas calls on the international community to intervene immediately to prevent this crime," Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum said in a statement.

Israel also said it was ending a seasonal expansion of the fishing zone off Gaza, returning it to six nautical miles instead of nine.

Israeli authorities claim that arson kites and balloons sent over the border fence from Gaza have caused major damage to farms in the area.

Gazans began launching the kites in April amid mass protests along the border calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to their former homes now inside Israel.

Palestinians denounced the move as a way of inflicting economic damage on Israel in protest without risking their lives by approaching the border fence. Since protests and clashes broke out along the Gaza border on March 30, at least 139 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. No Israelis have been killed.

The closed crossing is the only one between Gaza and Israel for goods transport. A separate crossing, known as Erez, is for people. Israel, which has fought three wars with Islamist movement Hamas since 2008, strictly controls both crossings. Gaza's only other border crossing is with Egypt. That crossing has been largely closed in recent years, but Egypt has opened it since mid-May.

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