Israel has closed the Gaza’s Kerem Shalom crossing to all but essential humanitarian aid and fuel in response to Hamas rocket fire and the launching of incendiary balloons at the country’s southern communities.
“The decision was made due to the continued launching of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israel,” the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said.
Kerem Shalom is Gaza’s main commercial crossing and its closures by Israel are often a sign of heighten tensions with Hamas.
“The decision was made following security deliberations and in light of repeated terror attacks committed by terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip against Israeli citizens, which is a violation of the Israeli sovereignty,” COGAT said.
Such violence “will first and foremost harm the residents of the Gaza Strip, the economic growth as well as the attempts to improve the civilian situation of its residents,” COGAT said.
“The IDF and the State of Israel will react forcefully and in an uncompromising manner to any violation of our sovereignty and to any threat imposed to our citizens,” it warned.
“Hamas is fully accountable for all that is done in the Gaza Strip, as well as for actions launched from Gaza against Israel. Hamas will therefore have to deal with the consequences of the violence committed against the citizens of Israel,” COGAT added.
Earlier in the day, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke about the situation in the south with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He said Israel’s only interest in Gaza was in the maintenance of clam and the return of two Israeli citizens and the remains of two soldiers help captive in Gaza.
“We would be happy to see Gaza develop. I would also be happy to see working from Gaza heading to Israel,” Gantz said.
“This can happen on one condition – that our boys are returned home,” Gantz said. “Once we see this, we can develop Gaza,” he added.