Israel imposes sanctions on Gaza over 'incendiary kite attacks'

Israel imposes sanctions on Gaza over 'incendiary kite attacks'
Israel has closed Gaza's only goods crossing, reduced the fishing zone, and blacklisted a TV channel, as it retaliates against the latest protest tactic by Palestinians of 'burning kites'.
2 min read
10 July, 2018
The kites are the latest protest tactic in Gaza [Getty]

Israel imposed sanctions on the Gaza Strip, and closed its only goods crossing, in retaliation for attacks by Palestinians using burning kites and helium balloons carrying blazing rags.

"The crossing will be closed except for humanitarian equipment (including food and medicine) that will be approved on an individual basis," Israel's military said in a statement.

"No exports or marketing of goods will be carried out from the Gaza Strip."

It added that the move was also due to "additional terror attempts", referring to infiltrations and other incidents along the Gaza border.

The crossing, known as Kerem Shalom, is to remain closed until further notice.

Israel also cut the area fishing boats are allowed to operate off Gaza's Mediterranean coast and blacklisted what it described as a pro-Hamas al-Quds TV channel.

"We will crack down immediately on the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip," Netanyahu told his parliamentary faction, to applause from lawmakers.

Netanyahu added he and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman had agreed to be "heavy-handed with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip - immediately".

"There will be additional steps. I will not go into details," he said in parliament.

Islamist movement Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, called the closure a "crime against humanity".

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

No one has been hurt by the fires, but wildfires have razed some 7,000 acres of forests and farmland, causing millions in damage.

The kites, and more recently balloons, released with incendiary material rags are the latest protest tactic, allowing Gazan protesters to inflict some economic losses on Israel, while remaining far enough from the border to avoid - for now at least - being shot by Israeli forces.

Many observers argue that the makeshift kite and balloon protests, met with drone strikes and military action, reflect the deep inequality at the heart of the conflict and crippling blockade of the enclave.

Over 145 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests began eleven weeks ago, the majority of which were killed near the border as troops use lethal force to prevent any infiltration attempts.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan had previously said Israeli snipers should shoot the kite flyers.

"I expect the IDF (Israeli army) to handle these kite-flyers exactly as they would any terrorist, and the IDF's targeted assassinations must also apply to these kite-flyers."