Israel closes border crossing with Gaza: official

Israel closes border crossing with Gaza: official
The Erez crossing had opened just last week to allow goods to reach the blockaded Gaza Strip.
2 min read
19 August, 2018
Palestinians await passport control at a crossing in Gaza [Getty]

Israel closed its only crossing for people with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, days after its forces shot and killed two Palestinian protesters along the Israel-Gaza separation barrier.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli defence ministry unit that oversees the passage confirmed that the Erez crossing had been closed. 

Israel's army said firebombs and IEDs were also hurled at the border fence, while a number of Palestinians briefly crossed into Israeli territory.

The closure and border incidents occurred despite attempts by Egypt and UN officials to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The spokeswoman for the defence ministry unit, known as COGAT, did not say how long the crossing would be closed.

The Palestinian Authority civilian affairs office in Gaza also confirmed the closure except for medical cases and Palestinians seeking to cross back into the enclave.

Israel has enforced an air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, but grants permission to a limited number of people to cross for various reasons.

Israel had just last week reopened its only goods crossing with Gaza after closing it to most deliveries for more than a month.

Protests began on the Gaza border on 30 March and have continued at varying levels since then, with Palestinians calling for the right of return.

At least 160 Palestinians have been killed by live Israeli fire since then, with more than 17,500 injured. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.

Israel says its use of live ammunition is necessary to defend its borders and stop infiltrations, but human rights groups accuse it of disproportionate force against unarmed protesters.

The UN has said a continuing blockade would make Gaza "unlivable" by 2020. 

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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