Hundreds of Palestinians were still waiting at the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, in a bid to cross to the Israeli side. According to the IDF, some 300 people were waiting at the crossing, while Palestinian sources presented a higher number – between 500 to 700 people.
Since the early morning hours, only a very small number of people carrying permits, all members of one family, was allowed to cross into Israel.
"Gaza is not our problem," security sources told Ynet on Sunday. "Since we left, they are trying to impose on us responsibility which is not ours."
According to the sources, "Not everyone who wants to flee is really in danger. The people want to escape also for fear of the economic and social situation in Gaza. If we allow masses of people to leave Gaza to the West Bank, it is unclear how this will affect the Judea and Samaria area."
Refugees at crossing. Waiting for a miracle (Photo: AP)
Meanwhile, the Dor Alon energy company has stopped selling gas
to petrol stations in the Gaza Strip. Ynet has learned that the move was coordinated with the IDF and security forces.
Dor Alon continues, however, to supply fuel to the power station in the Strip, which draws about one-third of the fuel supply in the Strip.
The Erez crossing has been closed since Saturday afternoon. The crisis began on Saturday when hundreds of Palestinians arrived at the crossing and demanded to cross to the Israeli side, forcing the soldiers to fire in the air. Since then, the refugees, including many women and children, have been waiting at the crossing between Gaza and Israel.
Israeli officials rejected the claims on a near humanitarian crisis, noting that "there will not be a situation of hunger in Gaza in the coming weeks, maybe only some shortage."
The problem, the officials said, was that Palestinians could not be allowed to enter without an organized coordination, which has nearly disappeared due to the "evaporation" of the Palestinian police.
In the past, when a Palestinian had arrived at the Palestinian side, the police would examine his documents and notify the Israeli side. The Palestinians would cross to the Israeli side, where they would undergo another security check, in order to prevent terrorists' attempts to cross into Israel.
On Thursday, however, Hamas
instructed the Palestinian police to leave the area. Since then, there has been no coordination between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
Some 200 people crossed into Israel in the past few days, after their passage was coordinated with security sources. The people who crossed included Palestinians, but also members of international organizations and people holding foreign passports.
"Those who were really in danger left the area, including activists of international organizations," security sources explained.
Those who manage to cross into Israel are met by a private company's bus which takes them to the Tarkumia checkpoint in the southern Mount Hebron, and from there they reach the West Bank.
Ibarahim Habib, field work coordinator at the Physicians for Human Rights organization, said that "we know of many injured and sick people who are at the crossings. We are talking about some hundreds of people without food and medical treatment. There are many patients who have to undergo complicated surgery, but there is no one to perform the operations."
According to him, the hospitals in the Strip are now serving as Hamas bases.
"There is a feeling of uncertainty and fear among the people who are at the crossing. Tge fact that they are not allowed to cross only adds to their stress," Habib said.
"We demand that the defense minister find a solution for the sick and injured who are there an open the Erez crossing. We ask that water and electricity supplies to the Strip are not cut off. This will only worsen the situation."
Habib warned of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. "We are headed toward a disaster, and only when a disaster actually happens, people will start moving," he said.
Meital Zur and Tani Goldstein contributed to the report