As arson attacks go on, Israel further tightens screws on Gaza goods crossing
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As arson attacks go on, Israel further tightens screws on Gaza goods crossing

Defense minister’s office announces no fuel will pass through Kerem Shalom until Sunday, while entry of food and medicine will continue

The Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip is seen from the Gaza side of the border on June 7, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
The Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip is seen from the Gaza side of the border on June 7, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

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, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s office said Monday.

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.

As it did when the initial restrictions were announced, Hamas decried the move as a “crime against humanity.” It said the new constraints reflect Israel’s “intention to aggravate the blockade on Gaza and carry out further crimes against its residents” and urged the world to intervene.

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 also 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.

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