Israel has closed the main cargo crossing, Kerem Shalom. The crossing will only be opened for ‘humanitarian equipment’ to be sent through- including food and medicine.
The military has said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered the closure of Kerem Shalom on Monday in “retaliation to the arson attacks by Palestinians”.
“In light of the ongoing arson terror and additional terror attempts, led by the Hamas terror organization,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu has vowed to ‘use a heavy hand against Hamas’, a Palestinian militant group dominating Gaza, not giving further details.
A spokesman of Hamas called the move, “a new crime against humanity”.
Gisha, an Israeli based NGO has also condemned the action, saying, “The damage being caused to agricultural lands in Israel is grave and deplorable, but collectively punishing nearly two million people in Gaza by closing its only official crossing for the movement of goods is both illegal and morally depraved.”
Since April, Israel has alleged that Palestinians have been launching burning fuel and explosive devices over the Gaza-Israel border through kites and balloons.
Israeli officials have said, “The devices have sparked 750 fires in southern Israel, burning more than 2,600 hectares (6,400 acres) of forest and farmland and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage.”
The alleged arson attacks started after Palestinians expressed their support for the return of Palestinian refugees into their homeland. They also demanded that the blockade in their country be revoked.
Israel and Egypt, in response have said that the blockade is an necessary security measure against the threat of militants. Gaza health officials have reported that ‘more than 130 Palestinians have been killed and 15,000 others injured by Israeli forces during the protests’.