Hamas warns Israel of ‘dangerous consequences’ over Gaza crossing closure
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Hamas warns Israel of ‘dangerous consequences’ over Gaza crossing closure

Terror group’s threat comes as Egypt also shutters Rafah crossing on Tuesday in both directions without explanation

Palestinian security forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority stand at the gate of the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, on July 9, 2018.(AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)
Palestinian security forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority stand at the gate of the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, on July 9, 2018.(AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

The Hamas terrorist group on Monday warned Israel of “dangerous consequences” over its fresh restrictions at a commercial crossing with the Gaza Strip, as the administrators of the Rafah passage linking Egypt to the Palestinian enclave announced its crossing would also be shuttered in both directions on Tuesday.

“The Israeli occupation’s closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing and depriving Gaza from the most simple necessities of life is a crime against humanity that will be added to its list of crimes at the expense of the Palestinian people including those living in the Strip,” said Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum in a statement posted on the organization’s official website.

“These vengeful measures reflect the degree of the oppression and the ugliness of the crime that Gaza is facing, that will have dangerous consequences for which the occupation will bear full responsibility,” the terrorist group said.

The statement came as officials manning the Rafah crossing announced it will not be operating Tuesday in both directions, according to the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center. No reason was given for the closure of the crossing into Egypt, which has been open since late May.

Earlier on Monday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s office said Israel will further limit the flow of goods into the Gaza Strip in response to the continued airborne arson attacks emanating from the coastal enclave.

Between Tuesday and Sunday, no fuel will enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom. The entry of food and medicine will continue, but will require explicit permission from Israel. Additionally, Gaza fishermen will only be allowed to venture three kilometers (1.8 miles) into the Mediterranean Sea, down from the current six kilometers (3.7 miles).

Liberman’s office said restrictions were toughened due to “continued terror attempts” by Hamas, which is allowing, encouraging and participating in flying incendiary devices and bombs into Israel with balloons and kites.

The arson attacks continued Monday, when at least seven blazes were started in the Eshkol region.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hears a briefing from the head of the IDF Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, on developments in southern Syria, on July 10, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

The new restrictions join those imposed by Israel last week, when it halted exports of Gazan produce and stopped most goods from going into the Strip. The military said the closure would continue as long as Palestinians persist in launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.

The arson attacks from Gaza in recent months that have burned thousands of acres of forest, agricultural lands and brush in southern Israel and caused many millions of shekels in damage.

The European Union criticized the move, saying it “expects Israel to reverse these decisions” which risked “further aggravating the already dire economic situation in Gaza.”

Kerem Shalom is the only cargo crossing between Gaza and Israel. The Strip has been subject to a strict blockade for the past 11 years that Israel says is necessary to prevent terrorist groups from bringing weapons into the Strip. Egypt also tightly controls the Rafah border crossing into the Sinai.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained that Israel was undertaking multiple measures to pressure Hamas, including closing Kerem Shalom.

The new restrictions came after a weekend flareup between Israel and the Hamas terror group in the Strip, in which some 200 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel and the IDF carried out multiple strikes inside the Palestinian enclave.

On Saturday night, a ceasefire of sorts was brokered by Egypt and other international bodies, though Israel was not directly involved in the talks. The violence abated to some degree, but tensions endured and cross-border attacks continued.

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