Israel Restricts Cargo Transport into Gaza Amid Ongoing Violence

Jul 18, 2018, 00:28
Israel Restricts Cargo Transport into Gaza Amid Ongoing Violence

The organizations said Israel's decision to allow only medicine and basic food products through the Kerem Shalom crossing amounted to an "immoral act of collective punishment".

Israel's military responded by hitting dozens of Hamas targets. Over 150 Palestinians have been killed since the protests erupted along the border separating Gaza and the occupied territories in March.

The arson attacks have caused hundreds of fires in southern Israel since April and Israeli officials say the practice of setting kites and balloons aflame across the Gaza border started out on a small scale, but was adopted and encouraged by Hamas, an opponent to Israel.

In addition, the fishing area will be reduced from six miles to three miles beginning Tuesday.

A Palestinian official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said Egypt and other global players were holding contacts with Israel and Gaza to restore calm.

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The same day Hamas said it launched rockets and mortars in response to the Israeli air strikes which wounded 30 Palestinians.

The steps come as the United Nations and Egypt push for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and as Israel prepares to go to war - if necessary - to prevent Hamas and the Islamic Jihad from launching rockets and incendiary devices into southern Israel.

However, it appeared that neither Israel nor Hamas were seeking further escalation and there were no reports of serious casualties on either side of the border.

Hamas will face a "wall of steel" if it keeps up its aggression against Israel, Netanyahu warned, adding however that the threat won't disappear overnight.

In the other direction "more than 60 rockets" were fired at southern Israel from Gaza, the Israeli military said, of which "approximately 10 rockets were intercepted".

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A Hamas spokesman called the closure a "crime against humanity".

Critics of the law, which passed with 43 votes in favor and 24 against in the 120-seat Knesset, said it was a blow to core democratic values like free speech and part of the Israeli government's effort to delegitimize rights groups and NGOs.

Citing the daily Hebrew-language newspaper Israel Hayom, IPT said Hamas is preparing to mount explosive material on unmanned aerial vehicles to target Israel communities deeper into the country.

Palestinians in Gaza view the balloons and kites as legitimate resistance against Israel's more than a decade-long blockade.

Egypt has also maintained the blockade with Israel over the strip, in an attempt to weaken Hamas. Egypt also tightly controls the Rafah border crossing into the Sinai. Organisers say the demonstrations aim to press demands for a right to lands lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation and for the blockade to ease.

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