Israel Closes Crossing Point Into Gaza, Halting Imports and Exports

A program on al Quds TV

The United Nations on Tuesday criticized Israel's closure of its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip, warning that the measure could have negative consequences.

The prime minister cited recent attacks launched from Gaza into Israel as the reason for closing imports and exports through the Kerem Shalom border crossing. "I am not detailing them", he told his parliamentary faction in broadcast remarks.

Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, called on the worldwide community to intervene immediately to prevent what it called a "new crime against humanity".

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

Gazans began launching the kites as part of protests along the border calling for Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes now inside Israel. Hamas, a Palestinian political movement, slammed Netanyahu's decision by describing it as a crime against humanity.

Incendiary kites and helium-filled balloons have consumed at least 33-square-kilometer of land in southern Israel, according to official Israeli figures.

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

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"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.

"This situation, in which every day our woodlands are being burned every day, can not continue", Lieberman said on Monday, adding that "I've instructed the IDF to take several measures".

Almost 140 people have been killed by Israeli gunfire during the popular demonstrations - dubbed the Great March of Return - that have been taking place along the fence separating Gaza from Israel.

The crossing is located near the Egyptian border and serves as the main entry point for commercial goods and humanitarian aid. During the first march, 16 Palestinians were killed and hundreds were wounded.

Israel briefly shut Kerem Shalom in May after dozens of Palestinian torched some of the terminal's facilities on the Gaza side of the border.

"The economy in Gaza is already extremely damaged due to the siege and the various Israeli assaults, but the latest move will worsen the state of the strip to a further extent".

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

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