Israel has tightened its siege on the Gaza Strip. After its closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing for all goods apart from fuel, food and medicine on July 9th, Israel Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has stated that the transfer of gas and fuel will also cease from Wednesday, July 18th until Sunday, July 22nd, this is all due to tensions with Hamas.
In addition to that the livelihood of Palestinians has been shrunk even further after Lieberman also announced that Palestine fishermen will only be allowed to sail up to 3 nautical miles off the coast, instead of the previous limitation of 6. The limitation has remained at 6 nautical miles for a while, with the exception of a six-week expansion to 9 miles, which started in October of 2017. It is notable that these limitations are present despite Israel’s obligation under the Oslo Accords to allow fishing up to 20 nautical miles off the Gaza shoreline.
This comes after Israel claims it has discovered a falcon, to which members of Gaza armed groups have allegedly tied an incendiary device which is meant to set fires, which appears to be the first case of Gaza fighters using animals for their attacks on Israel.
On Saturday, July 15th Israel sent air raids to attack Hamas targets in Gaza in its largest bombardment since the 2014 war, among the victims were two teenagers playing on the roof of a bombarded high-rise. Hamas retaliated with numerous rockets which disrupted daily life.
The Egypt-brokered ceasefire is still in effect, and Israel claims that it has no wishes in engaging in a war with Hamas, however it shall not tolerate the incendiary kites and balloons that are being sent over the border and which damage Israeli land and nature reserves.
On Tuesday, July 10th, Egypt closed its Gaza crossing, mainly used for pedestrian passage, however it started allowing the passage of some goods.
Hamas immediately condemned Israel’s decision to stop gas and fuel into Gaza, only allowing food and medicine on a case by case basis.
The blockade of the border crossing by Israel was called a “crime against humanity” by Hamas, which has warned that the decision would have “serious consequences.” Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Kanou said that the decision shows Israel’s “bad intentions” and it shows intention of “committing more crimes against the Palestinians.” He also called for the international community to break the silence and condemn Israel for its crimes against humanity.
Hazem Qassem, another Hamas spokesman, denounced the decision as a “crime”, which is in violation with all international laws and conventions. The decision, however, according to Qassem’s words will not falter the Palestinians’ willpower and resolve to pursue freedom.
Palestinians are warning that food may also be banned. Raed Fattouh, head of the Gaza Committee for Coordinating the Entry of Goods into the Gaza Strip said on Monday, as reported by the Jerusalem Post, that Israel has informed the Palestinians of its intention to close the crossing entirely and that it would only allow medical supplies, and only when they’re needed.
Before the prohibition of entry of gas and fuel the EU and UN called on Israel to permit the passage of commercial goods, the international community’s answer to the most recent decision has not yet been given.
The blockade and recent ban of fuel and gas, comes after a weekend filled with air raids and bombardment from both sides, as well as after months of protest marches along the Gaza Strip.