Israel further tightens Gaza blockade over arson kites
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Israel further tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip on July 17, preventing fuel deliveries through its only goods crossing with the Palestinian enclave after scores of kites carried firebombs across the border to burn Israeli farmland.
The defence ministry announced the move late Monday after saying last week it was closing the crossing to most deliveries, citing the kites and balloons that have for months carried firebombs into Israel from Gaza.
The goods crossing, known as Kerem Shalom, will remain open for food and medicine on a case-by-case basis.
"In light of the continued terror efforts of Hamas, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has decided, after consulting with the chief of (military) staff, to close Kerem Shalom for the passage of fuel and gas until Sunday," a statement said.
It had called the initial closing last week a "crime against humanity".
Gaza's only other border crossing is with Egypt. That crossing has been largely closed in recent years, but Egypt has opened it since mid-May.
There were reports in the Israeli media of Egypt moving to close its crossing, but no confirmation.
Israeli authorities say the hundreds of arson kites and balloons sent over the border fence from Gaza have caused major damage to farms in the area.
A spokesman for Israel's fire service says around 750 fires have burned some 2,600 hectares, estimating the damage at hundreds of thousands of dollars or euros.
The same day, around 200 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from the Hamas-run enclave and four Israelis were wounded when a rocket hit a house in the nearby Israeli city of Sderot.