Israel says closing Gaza's main trade terminal in anti-Hamas crackdown

Frederick Owens
July 12, 2018

In previous retaliatory measures, Israel struck targets belonging to Hamas, blaming the group for the launching of the kites.

On Monday, Israel also closed its only goods crossing with the Gaza Strip in response to weeks of fires at farms caused by kites and balloons carrying firebombs from the Palestinian enclave.

Organisers say the demonstrations are expressions of popular frustration that aim to press demands such as for Palestinians' right to lands lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation and for an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza to ease.

"The damage being caused to agricultural lands in Israel is grave and deplorable, but collectively punishing almost two million people in Gaza by closing its only official crossing for the movement of goods is both illegal and morally depraved", it wrote on Twitter.

The current situation in the Gaza Strip was in focus of a telephone conversation between Russian president's envoy for the Middle East and African countries and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday. "The occupation regime is responsible for the political, legal and security consequences of this decision".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to use a "heavy hand" against the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which dominates Gaza. It also said Gaza's fishing zone would revert to 11 km (6 miles) after it was temporarily expanded to 17 km (9 miles). "There will be other steps which I won't detail", he said.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett reports from Gaza.

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The unit added that Israel's decision is not a solution and that Israel will be defeated by the people of Gaza.

Translation: If Hamas continues in this direction, these decisions will continue and will intensify.

In addition, Israel will reimpose restrictions on the zone it allows Gazan fishermen to reach with their boats.

"The flotilla will set out at 11 a.m. tomorrow carrying sick and injured Palestinians who have been unable to travel overseas [for medical treatment] as a result of the blockade", Bassam Manasra, a spokesman for Gaza's National Committee for Breaking the Siege, said at a Monday press conference in Gaza City.

No Israelis have been killed.

Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch's Israel-Palestine director, said the economic measure by Israel was an act of "collective punishment".

People taking part in more than three months of protests at the Gaza border have started scores of fires by sending the balloons and kites into Israel, vexing its advanced military which is used to dealing with more conventional weapons.

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