Israel closure of vital Gaza commercial border takes effect

Israel closure of vital Gaza commercial border takes effect

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing point between Israel and Gaza.

After Netanyahu's decision to increase the siege on Gaza, the "incendiary kites unit" of return camps in the central Gaza Strip threatened on Tuesday to escalate the number of incendiary kites and explosive balloons targeting Israeli fields surrounding Gaza.

A humanitarian flotilla is due to arrive at Gaza strip attempting to break Israel's sea blockade, bringing medical aids and hopefully carrying out sick and injured Gazans lacking proper treatments to Cyprus. "There will be other steps which I won't detail", he said.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the move "a new crime against humanity" and called on the global community to intervene.

Since protests and clashes broke out along the Gaza border on March 30, at least 139 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

Some 40 to 50 trucks transporting local goods used to leave the Strip on daily basis, Futooh added.

"After the boat and the Palestinians on board are searched, the boat will be towed to the Israeli navy base in Ashdod", Israel's military said in a statement.

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

The crossing, which would usually be sealed off during official Israeli holidays and on weekends, also aided in the delivery of foreign aid to Gaza.

The arson attacks began during mass demonstrations along the border, at which thousands of Palestinians have expressed their support for the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel and also demanded an end to the blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt. During the first march, 16 Palestinians were killed and hundreds were wounded.

"The latest retaliatory measure by Israel made no mention to the fishing limit in Gaza, but we expect to hear from them on Tuesday", he said.

It quoted officials from the United Nations agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, saying the cuts in worldwide contributions will affect its programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

The move tightens the blockade on Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.

The Israeli government also chose to reduce the area allowed for fishing in the sea of Gaza from nine nautical miles to six nautical miles, according to the Israeli media.

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