Right-wing activists, southern residents briefly block Gaza cargo crossing

Small protest at Kerem Shalom crossing comes after weekend flareup threatens to bring sides to brink of war again

Residents from the south and activists from the right-wing Im Tirtzu organization block trucks entering Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, October 29, 2018 (Im Tirtzu)
Residents from the south and activists from the right-wing Im Tirtzu organization block trucks entering Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, October 29, 2018 (Im Tirtzu)

Activists briefly blocked trucks carrying goods and fuel from entering Gaza Monday morning, aiming to up pressure on the government to tighten its blockade on the Palestinian enclave amid continuing unrest along the border.

The small group group, consisting of about a dozen locals and members of the the right-wing Im Tirtzu organization, blocked a road leading to the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing fro several minutes, according to the Ynet news website.

“Enough is enough, we are sick and tired of this,” said organizer Liana Peretz, a resident of nearby Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, according to a statement from Im Tirtzu.

“It is inconceivable that my kids need to wake up in the middle of the night and run to bomb shelters, or need to be afraid of balloons and kites. The time has come for the government to wake up and do something,” she said.

The protest came as tensions along the restive border once again ramped up, after a weekend that saw heavy rocket fire on Israeli communities in the south and retaliatory strikes from the IDF, threatening to bring the sides back to the brink of war.

On Sunday, Israel killed three Gazans in an airstrike on what the military said was a group planting explosives along the border.

Trucks and cars waiting to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, October 29, 2018 (Im Tirtzu)

The Kerem Shalom Crossing is used to bring fuel and goods into the coastal enclave.

Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza since Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, seized the territory from the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in 2007. It says the blockade is in place in order to prevent weapons and other military equipment from entering the Strip.

Critics point to worsening humanitarian conditions in Gaza and say the blockade amounts to collective punishment of the two million Palestinians living there.

There have been many reports that the coastal strip is “on the verge of collapsing,” and could plunge into a new round of fighting with Israel if conditions do not improve. The army has sought to keep goods flowing into Gaza in a bid to ease tensions.

Since mid-May, after five long years in which the frontier was largely closed, Egyptian authorities have opened the crossing on their side several days a week.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s office announced that Qatari-purchased fuel would be allowed into the Strip via the crossing. It had been kept out for a week, following a flareup between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group that was sparked by a rocket fired from the enclave that struck a home in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. The crossing has remained open despite a barrage of rockets over the weekend.

After a long, hot summer of fuel shortages, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov tweeted on Sunday that Gaza residents were now receiving eight hours of electricity per day.

A much larger group of residents from the Gaza border communities protested in Tel Aviv on Sunday night, blocking major roads in what they said was a demonstration against the wave of rockets fired over the weekend and the government’s inaction over the threats emanating from Gaza.

Shouting slogans including “brothers, wake up! The south is burning!” the protesters also played recordings of the sirens which sound to give them a 15 second warning ahead of incoming projectiles.

Residents of southern Israel lie on the ground as they re-enact a rocket siren during a Tel Aviv protest calling for better security, October 28, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have participated in near-daily Hamas-led protests and riots that have mostly involved the burning of tires and rock-throwing along the security fence, but have also seen shooting attacks and bombings as well as the sending of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel.

Flares-up in violence have also seen the launching of hundreds of rockets and mortars at the Israeli communities bordering the Strip.

Over 150 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured in the clashes with IDF troops, according to AP figures. Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of the dead were its members. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the border earlier this year.

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