Israel has further tightened its blockade on the Gaza Strip, preventing gas and fuel deliveries through its only commercial crossing with the Palestinian besieged enclave a week after Israeli authorities announced the closure of the crossing.
The Kerem Shalom crossing, known to Palestinians as Karem Abu Salem, was shut down on July 9 and initially, only items deemed as “humanitarian” would be allowed to enter Gaza, such as food, hygiene and medical supplies, fuel, animal feed and livestock.
However, the defence ministry announced late on Monday that fuel and gas deliveries will also be suspended, and that the crossing will remain open only for food and medicine on a case-by-case basis.
“In light of the continued terror efforts of Hamas, Defense 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 from the ministry said.
Furthermore, the fishing zone, enforced by Israel, in the waters off the Gaza Strip will also be reduced from six nautical miles to three – after it was already reduced last week from 12 nautical miles.
The UN and Gisha, the Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, called Israel’s latest measure an act of “collective punishment”.
“There is no other way of describing this measure other than collective punishment. Pretending to know what Gaza needs and trying to ‘manage the situation’ harkens back to earlier iterations of the closure, is morally depraved and constitutes a willful act of hubris in a volatile situation,” a spokesperson from Gisha said.
Hamas, the Palestinian group that runs Gaza, had described the closure as a “crime against humanity”.