Southern Command OC Maj.Gen. Tal Russo announced Monday morning that the Kerem Shalom border crossing to Gaza will be closed until further notice after more than 150 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel from Gaza over the last week.
The IDF spokesman’s office said on Monday that security considerations will determine how long the crossing will remain closed.
The Kerem Shalom crossing is the sole freight terminal on the Israel-Gaza border, and particularly important in light of the sea blockade that Israel maintains around Gaza. Between 150-250 trucks pass through Kerem Shalom daily, providing humanitarian aid in the form of fuel, essential medical supplies and food to the residents of Gaza.
During the week between June 10-16, the IDF spokesman’s office reported that over 34,000 tons of goods had entered Gaza.
The recent flare-up began on June 16 when two Grad rockets were fired from the Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel. Two days later, three Sinai-based terrorists, from the newly established, al-Qaeda-affiliated Mujahideen Shura Council of Jerusalem snuck into Israel and opened fire on construction workers building the fence along the Israel-Egypt border, killing Said Fashfasha of Haifa. Later in the day, Hamas squads began firing on Israel. The IAF responded with a series of strikes and counter strikes.
Despite five mortar bombs that landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, Sunday saw the return to normalcy for residents in the south as schools reopened amid an Egypt-brokered truce. No damage and injuries were reported from the latest barrage of mortars.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to hit back at Gaza for any infraction of the truce.
“The IDF is taking strong action against those who are attacking us and it will take even stronger action if need be. Our policy is to use force in order to restore security and quiet to the residents of the south,” Netanyahu said at the start of the Cabinet meeting Sunday morning.