Israel Shuts Gaza Crossing, Deter Incendiary Kites

July 10, 2018

2 min read

Israel announced  that it will shut down Kerem Shalom, the main border crossing into Gaza, in an effort to force Hamas to cease sending incendiary kites and helium balloons into Israel. Hamas, the de facto ruling power in Gaza, called the move “a crime against humanity.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the decision to the media.

“We will crack down immediately on the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. In a significant move, we will today shut down the Kerem Shalom (border) crossing,” Netanyahu said during a Likud faction meeting.

The IDF made a statement about the decision, noting that the border crossing would be open for the transfer of approved humanitarian goods including food and medicine.

“The Hamas terrorist group is responsible for everything done in the Gaza Strip and for all the consequences of it. Hamas is dragging the residents of the Strip into the abyss,” the army said. “The IDF will continue to act as necessary to preserve the security interests of the State of Israel.”

In an additional security measure, the IDF announced that Gaza’s fishing zone would revert to 6 miles. It had been temporarily expanded to 9 miles.

The measures come in response to countless thousands of incendiary kites and balloons that have been sent into Israel as part of the Hamas-led March of Return demonstrations that have been held on the security fence with Israel since March 30. Hundreds of wildfires have been ignited, destroying an estimated 7,000 acres of farmland and nature reserves.

“Netanyahu’s approval of additional measures to intensify the siege and prevent the entry of materials and goods to Gaza is a new crime against humanity,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in reaction to the decision to close the crossing.

The Islamic Jihad in Gaza called the move an “act of war,” warning that they are beginning to organize for military action.

“We are coordinating with the factions and forces to evaluate all developments, including the occupation’s most recent measures, which we are dealing with as a new declaration of war on the Palestinian people,” the Islamic Jihad said in a statement

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov urged the Israeli government to open the crossing.

“I am concerned by the consequences of Israel’s decision to temporarily suspend imports and exports with the exception of basic humanitarian supplies through the Kerem Shalom crossing,” Mladenov said in a statement. “Humanitarian assistance is no substitute for commerce and trade. I urge the authorities to reverse this decision.”

He also related to the aerial incendiary attacks, calling on Hamas and the other ruling factions in Gaza to “do their part by maintaining calm, stopping incendiary kites and preventing provocations.”

The Kerem Shalom Crossing was temporarily closed in May after demonstrators vandalized the site and set fire to the fuel terminal twice in one week.

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