Israel to partially reopen sole goods crossing with Gaza

Israel to partially reopen sole goods crossing with Gaza
The Kerem Shalom crossing will be partially reopened on Tuesday, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has said.
2 min read
24 July, 2018
The Kerem Shalom crossing is Gaza's only goods crossing with Israel [AFP]

Israel will partially reopen its only goods crossing with the blockaded Gaza Strip later Tuesday, a minister said, after closing it July 9 over border tensions and kites carrying firebombs to burn Israeli farmland.

"Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided that Kerem Shalom will partially reopen and as of today at 12:00 pm [0900 GMT] it will be possible to transfer gas and fuel into the Gaza Strip, in addition to food and medicine," Lieberman's office said.

The statement noted that the number of kites and balloons carrying firebombs into Israeli territory had been reduced but not totally eliminated.

It said the crossing could return to full activity soon "conditioned on the full cessation of fire-balloon launches and friction on the fence."

Israel says the devices have sparked hundreds of fires since April and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Palestinians in Gaza see the kites and balloons as legitimate resistance against Israel's more than 10-year blockade.

The partial reopening follows urgent warnings from United Nations officials that emergency fuel supplies are running low in the Gaza Strip and that the shortage is starting to affect hospitals and water sanitation.

The coastal enclave suffers from a severe lack of electricity and relies on fuel-powered generators during outages that last hours at a time.

Israel and Hamas, the movement that runs the Gaza Strip, reached a ceasefire at the weekend following a major flare-up of violence Friday.

Israel had carried out a wave of air strikes killing three Hamas fighters after one of its soldiers was shot dead along the Gaza border.

Explainer: Life in Gaza under Israel's blockade

Kerem Shalom is the only crossing open to transport goods into and out of Gaza, including fuel and food.

The UN has warned that Gaza would be "unliveable" by 2020 due to Israel's land and sea blockade, which began after Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007.