Hamas decries Israel's closure of vital Gaza commercial border

Analysis Why close the Kerem Shalom Gaza border crossing now

Analysis Why close the Kerem Shalom Gaza border crossing now

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel will be closing the Gaza Strip's main commercial crossing and limiting the Palestinian coastal enclave's fishing zone in response to the protests in form of incendiary balloons across the borders.

Only "humanitarian equipment", including food and medicine, will now be allowed through Kerem Shalom.

In June previous year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his intention to close the Jerusalem-bureau of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news network accusing it of incitement and propaganda.

Israel also said it was ending a seasonal expansion of the fishing zone off Gaza, returning it to six nautical miles instead of nine.

The incendiary devices have ignited fires that have damaged farmland and forests near the border.

Since Mar. 30, more than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army gunfire - and thousands more injured - while taking part in regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel security fence.

Palestinians in Gaza have been using flaming kites to set agricultural land on fire.

"There shall be no import or export of any goods to and from the Gaza Strip", said a statement by the Israeli Defence Forces.

The Israeli Army said the border closure is effective as of Monday.

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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.

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

Israel briefly shut Kerem Shalom in May after dozens of Palestinian torched some of the terminal's facilities on the Gaza side of the border. "There will be additional steps".

This is the second flotilla that has been sent to Gaza since May 29th, where the Israeli naval forces intercepted the first flotilla and arrested 17 passengers on board.

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

"Hamas urges the worldwide community to immediately intervene", said Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for Hamas, which is deemed a terrorist group by Israel and the West.

Mahmud Abu Ataya, 25, who recently suffered a leg wound east of Gaza City, said: "I am leaving to be cared for overseas".

No Israelis have been killed.

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