Netanyahu closes Gaza commercial border crossing

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad visits the offices of al Watan TV after a pre-dawn IDF raid in Ramallah on Wednesday. The computer screen on the right shows a soldier during the raid

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad visits the offices of al Watan TV after a pre-dawn IDF raid in Ramallah on Wednesday. The computer screen on the right shows a soldier during the raid

Israel has shut the main cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip in retaliation for arson attacks by Palestinians and attempts to infiltrate its territory.

An Israeli military statement said Kerem Shalom would remain open for the transfer of specially approved humanitarian goods.

He warned that the decision to prevent export and import through the commercial crossing on the border between the southeastern Gaza Strip and Israel will double the suffering of the people in Gaza.

Israel also said it was ending a seasonal expansion of the fishing zone off Gaza, returning it to six nautical miles instead of nine.

The flaming kites have set fires to forest and farmland, and have done some damage, though inflicted few casualties.

Israeli officials have accused Hamas of organising the Great March of Return - a mass protest that began on 30 March, calling for an end to the 11-year Israeli-led blockade of Gaza and for Palestinian refugees' right of return to the lands their families fled during the establishment of the state of Israel.

Israel will also severely limit the ability of Palestinians to fish off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

Nearly all of the goods imported to Gaza pass through Kerem Shalom.

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"The arbitrary closure of the crossing would double the population's suffering", he added.

Al-Ayyam said the Israeli military government gave the settlers the green light to have a cemetery on Palestinian land in the north of the West Bank.

"The Israeli side officially informed us that the shipment of goods and all kinds of products are banned except for food, medical aid, wheat, livestock and fuel", said Fattouh. "I will not go into details", he said in parliament.

The current situation in the Gaza Strip was in focus of a telephone conversation between Russian president's envoy for the Middle East and African countries and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Speaking from the enclave, Nizar Ayash, head of Gaza's fishermen's union, said the Strip's 4,000 registered fishermen would take precautionary measures when leaving shore on Tuesday. Tel Aviv made the move in response to Palestinians launching incendiary kites across the border.

"Hamas calls on the global community to intervene immediately to prevent this crime", Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum said in a statement.

"International and regional silence for the crime of the suffocating siege imposed on the Gaza Strip for (nearly) 12 years has encouraged the Israeli enemy to carry on with its criminal measures that violate human rights and worldwide laws", Barhum added.

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