Israel to close Kerem Shalom crossing, stopping gas, fuel transfers
Hamas threatens 'severe consequences' for decision announced after Gaza violates ceasefire of weekend violence by firing rocket into southern Israel while incendiary kites and balloons continue to cause fires in Israeli communities; medicine and food to be allowed through commercial crossing.
“Due to continued attempts to carry out terror by the Hamas terror organization, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has decided, on the advice of the chief of staff, to close the Kerem Shalom crossing to fuel and gas until next Sunday,” a statement read from the Defense Ministry.
“Food and medicine will continue to be transferred and will be approved on an individual basis. Moreover, it has been decided to narrow the fishing zone in the Gaza Strip from a range of six nautical miles to three nautical miles,” the statement added.
Hamas responded to the decision. “The Israeli sanction reflect Israeli intentions to intensify the siege on Gaza and to carry out more crimes against the citizens of Gaza,” the terror groups statement claimed. “The world must break its silence about the crimes against humanity that Israel is committing.
“The vindictive steps by Israel reflect the magnitude of the injustice and the crimes that are committed in the Gaza Strip. There will be severe consequences and Israel will have to take responsibility. It will never succeed in influencing the national position to continue the struggle and resistance until we achieve our rights and lift the siege,” the statement said.
In addition, the Egyptians announced that they were temporarily closing the Rafah crossing due to a technical malfunction. A bus on its way to the crossing was forced to turn around due to the Egyptian announcement, which emphasized that the malfunction was on the Egyptian side and that the closure would only be temporary.
The Rafah crossing has been opened since the month of Ramadan every day except Friday and Saturday.
Last Monday, Israel said it was closing the Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s main commercial crossing, and limiting the Palestinian coastal enclave's fishing zone in a crackdown targeting the Hamas terror organization responsible for border protests now in their fourth month.
A rocket launched from Gaza landed in open space in south Israel on Monday evening, despite a Sunday announcement from Hamas and Islamic Jihad that a ceasefire had been reached with Israel after the region witnessed a major flare-up over the weekend.
Local residents reported hearing an explosion after a Code Red alert blared in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council at 5:36pm.
The rocket launch came shortly after the IDF confirmed Palestinian reports that it had attacked two observation posts in Beit Hanoun and Jabalia on Monday afternoon located near areas from which Palestinians had flown incendiary balloons earlier in the day.
According to the IDF, the attack was carried out in response to the kite and balloon terror led by Hamas against Israeli civilians and against Israeli sovereignty.
Throughout the day, firefighters were once again called to Israeli Gaza-border communities on as flames incinerated more landscape at the Karmiya Reserve between Kibbutz Karmiya and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai.
The firefighters in the area were assisted by three planes. A thick blanket of smoke caused by the fires covered the areas around the kibbutzim and near Zikim and Moshav Netiv HaAsara, while residents complaining that it was difficult to breath were advised to stay in their homes and close the windows until further notice.
In addition, the Eshkol Regional Council reported that since the morning, seven fires had broken out, six of which were brought under control by firefighters.
Elior Levy, Yoav Zitun and Itamar Eichner contributed to this report.