Israel to reopen Gaza goods crossing if calm holds

Israel to reopen Gaza goods crossing if calm holds
2 min read
22 July, 2018
Israel plans to open its goods only crossing as Gaza continues to face fuel shortages.
At least 149 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 30 (Getty)
Israel will reopen its only goods crossing with the blockaded Gaza Strip on Tuesday if calm holds following a ceasefire, a minister said, after closing it July 9 partly over kites carrying firebombs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned separately, however, that the military was prepared for far more intense strikes in the Gaza Strip if it deems necessary after a severe flare-up of violence on Friday.

UN officials meanwhile said that the Gaza Strip was facing serious fuel shortages affecting hospitals as well as water and sanitation facilities, calling for restrictions to be lifted.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday spoke of reopening the goods crossing, known as Kerem Shalom.

"If today and tomorrow the situation continues as it was yesterday, then on Tuesday we will allow Kerem Shalom to return to normal activity and the fishing zones will return to the same distances as before," he said.

Israeli authorities say hundreds of fires have been started by the firebombs since April.

'Being fast depleted' 

Israel announced on July 9 that the goods crossing was being closed to most deliveries partly in response to the firebombs and other incidents along the border fence.

On July 17, it further tightened the restrictions to also prevent fuel deliveries while reducing the fishing zone Israel enforces off Gaza to three nautical miles from six.

The crossing has remained open for food and medicine on a case-by-case basis.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Jamie McGoldrick, said Sunday that "supplies of emergency fuel provided by the UN for critical facilities in Gaza are being fast depleted."

He called on Israel to end restrictions on fuel imports and warned hospitals could soon be forced to close, with emergency supplies set to run out in early August.

"Given ongoing blackouts of about 20 hours a day, if fuel does not come in immediately, people's lives will be at stake, with the most vulnerable patients, like cardiac patients, those on dialysis, and newborns in intensive care, at highest risk," he said in a statement.

Gaza suffers from a severe electricity shortage and relies on generators in many cases.

Mass protests and clashes erupted on the Gaza border on March 30 and have continued at varying levels since then.

At least 149 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 30. The soldier shot dead on Friday was the first Israeli killed in that period.

Gaza's only other goods crossing is Rafah crossing with Egypt. It had been kept largely closed in recent years, but Egypt opened it in mid-May and it has remained open most of the time since then.