Israel closes Gaza border crossings as strikes intensify

Israel closes Gaza border crossings as strikes intensify
Israel closed its Gaza border crossings on Thursday after a week of intense rocket fire by Palestinian militants sparked by US President Donald Trump's Jerusalem move.
2 min read
14 December, 2017
The Kerem Shalom crossing and the Erez pedestrian crossing were shut as of Thursday [Getty]
Israel closed its Gaza border crossings on Thursday in response to rocket fire from the enclave over the past week.

Palestinian militants have fired about a dozen rockets at Israel since President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, with Israel retaliating with air strikes which have left at least two Palestinians dead and several wounded.

In the early hours of Thursday, Israeli aircraft struck three facilities belonging to Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, after the latest rocket attacks, Israel's military said.

It said it targeted training camps and weapons storage compounds. Hamas usually abandons such facilities when border tensions spike.

The Israeli army said in a statement that "due to the security events and in accordance with security assessments" Kerem Shalom crossing - the main passage point for goods entering the Gaza Strip, and the Erez pedestrian crossing - would be shut as of Thursday, without saying how long the closure would last.

Two other Palestinians have been killed in confrontations with Israeli troops during stone-throwing protests along the border.

The area has been largely calm since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war, but the week since Trump's statement has seen protests by Palestinians and the most intensive exchange of cross-border fire since the 2014 conflict.

Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi said on Israel Radio that while Hamas was not carrying out the rocket strikes, it needed to rein in militants from "breakaway groups" or it would "find itself in a situation where it has to contend" with Israeli forces.

In Istanbul on Wednesday, a summit of more than 50 Muslim countries condemned Trump's move and urged the world to recognise East Jerusalem, captured by Israel along with the West Bank in a 1967 war, as the capital of Palestine.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been the only one to applaud Trump's December 6 announcement as a recognition of political reality and Jews's biblical links to Jerusalem, a city that is also holy to Muslims and Christians.