Kerem Shalom to partially reopen midday Tuesday
Following drop in incendiary balloons being flown into Israel by Hamas, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman decides to partially reopen the Kerem Shalom border crossing; In addition to food and medicine, fuel and gas will be allowed into the Gaza Strip; Lieberman: 'Crossing will fully reopen when there is zero friction on the fence, zero rockets and zero incendiary balloons.'
While gas and fuel will be allowed into the Gaza Strip in addition to food and medicine, some restrictions remain in the crossing: No other goods, including construction materials, will be allowed in, and there is also a ban on the export of goods from Gaza.
The move is the result of the latest ceasefire agreement between Israel and terror organizations in Gaza.
A short time before Lieberman's announcement, the IDF attacked an incendiary balloon squad in northern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
The crossing was initially closed eight days ago due to the escalation on the southern border and the continuation of arson terror caused by incendiary balloons flown into Israel.
According to a statement from the defense minister's office, the decision was made in light of not only the drop in incendiary balloons being flown from the strip but also due to a drop in violent, Hamas-organized activities along the border fence.
The statement noted that the number of kites and balloons carrying firebombs into Israeli territory had been reduced but not totally eliminated.
It said the crossing could return to full activity soon "conditioned on the full cessation of fire-balloon launches and friction on the fence.
The incendiary balloons have sparked hundreds of fires since April and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Palestinians in Gaza see the kites and balloons as legitimate resistance against Israel's more than 10-year blockade.
The partial reopening follows urgent warnings from United Nations officials that emergency fuel supplies are running low in the Gaza Strip and that the shortage is starting to affect hospitals and water sanitation.
The coastal enclve suffers from a severe lack of electricity and relies on fuel-powered generators during outages that last hours at a time.
On Monday, Lieberman held a situation assessment at the Kerem Shalom crossing, saying that Saturday was the calmest day on the southern border since March 30. He stressed that Hamas is responsible for the escalation and emphasized that the crossing would become fully operational only in the event of complete cessation of arson terror and violent incidents along the fence.
"Zero friction on the fence, zero rockets and zero incendiary balloons," exclaimed the defense minister.
"We completed our assessment regarding the transfer of goods through Kerem Shalom. The residents of Gaza must understand that as long as there are incendiary balloons and fires, things won’t go back to normal for them … the key is quiet, calm, zero rockets or, god forbid, gunfire," Lieberman concluded.
AFP contributed to this report.