Palestinians torch Kerem Shalom for 3rd time in 10 days
Goods crossing into Gaza targeted by Palestinians again Monday; IDF footage shows Palestinian lobbing Molotov cocktail at crossing; while Defense Minister Lieberman announced crossing's closure on Saturday, it will be reopened Tuesday under IDF, COGAT recommendation.
The video showed one of the Palestinian rioters holding a Molotov cocktail, lobbing it at the crossing and then escaping.
It was the third incident of the crossing being torched—as it was this past Friday and the Friday before.
While Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman initially decided to shut the crossing down "until further notice" this past Saturday, he adopted a recommendation by the IDF and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to reopen the crossing on Tuesday.
Several hundred Palestinians arrived to the Kerem Shalom crossing in the early hours of the evening Monday, sabotaging a portion not consumed by fire in the prior two incidents.
The Palestinians damaged the fuel pipelines and the quarry materials depot. The sabotage will likely make the electricity shortage in Gaza worse, due to a nearly complete halt in the passage of diesel and other fuels through Kerem Shalom into the strip.
Representatives from the Border Crossings Authority, IDF Southern Command and the crossing's operators toured the place over the weekend, a day after Palestinians rioters set fire to the crossing in several locations, targeting gas pipelines and a conveyor ferrying building materials on the Palestinian side.
Damages were estimated to range in the tens of millions of shekels. A source present at the tour told Ynet that they were "taken aback at the destruction and ruin left in the Palestinians' wake. They are simply bringing disaster on themselves."
The IDF initially issued a statement saying the crossing will remain closed until repairs can be made, with only humanitarian cases allowed through.
After the IDF's announcement, the strip's energy companies reported a shortage of cooking gas.
The army further said that Hamas has been "escalating its terror actions in the past few weeks under cover of violent riots and has been harming Gazans' quality of life and paralyzing its lifelines."
"Israel and many other countries around the world have endeavored to allow good, equipment and fuels to enter the strip for its civilians, while Hamas is preventing their arrival and carrying out activities that endanger the crossings' continued operation," the statement continued.
"Hamas is responsible for all goings-on inside Gaza both above and below ground, and will face the ramifications of its actions," the army concluded.
The IDF also specified the damage done to Kerem Shalom: the fuel depot was no longer operational, gas hookup stations were damaged and the gas main line was non-operational as well, the fueling complex was damaged by fire and the quarry materials conveyor was no longer operational after sustaining heavy damage.
In addition, the electrical infrastructures of produce, food and animal conveyors was damaged and fences, lighting posts and cameras belonging to the crossing's security infrastructures were damaged.
The committee organizing the protests issued a statement following the arson, dubbing it a "regrettable incident" and calling to preserve the crossings and national infrastructures providing services to Gazans.
However, the committee deliberately refrained from directly denouncing protesters, and fingered Israel as the culprit for the fire due to the heavy tear gas usage that led to many Palestinians becoming trapped in the same place.