UN criticises Israeli closure of Gaza border crossing

UN criticises Israeli closure of Gaza border crossing
2 min read
11 July, 2018
The UN has criticised Israel's closure of its only cargo crossing with Gaza, warning that the measure could have severe negative consequences on the already crippled economy.
Kerem Shalom, Israel's only goods crossing with Gaza [Getty]
The United Nations on Tuesday criticised Israel's closure of its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip, warning that the measure could have severe negative consequences.

In a statement, UN Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov  urged Israel to reverse its decision that is set to paralyse the already crippled economy in the enclave.

Israel said it was closing the Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday to everything except essential humanitarian supplies in response to the incendiary kites and balloons that have been flown from Gaza into Israel over the last few months.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza for over a decade in an attempt to weaken Hamas, a militant group that seeks Israel's destruction. The blockade has caused widespread economic hardship.

Mladenov said he was "concerned about the consequences" of Israel's latest closure. "Humanitarian assistance is not a substitute for commerce and trade," he said.

He also urged Gaza's militant Hamas rulers to "do their part by maintaining calm, stopping incendiary kites and preventing other provocations."

Read more: Israel's obvious attempts to provoke Hamas will fail

The flaming kites, which have torched wide swaths of Israeli farmland, have come amid near-weekly demonstrations by Gaza residents along the volatile frontier since late March. The demonstrations have been fueled in large part by widespread despair caused by the blockade, which has resulted in chronic electricity outages and unemployment approaching 50 percent.

Over 130 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured by Israeli sniper fire, drawing international criticism of Israel. Israel accuses Hamas of trying to use the demonstrators as human shields to protect militants trying to infiltrate into Israel, however none have done so and no Israelis have died.

On Tuesday, the military said it stopped a Palestinian boat that attempted to break the naval blockade, which limits Palestinians from sailing beyond six nautical miles off the Gazan coast. It was the second attempt made in the past two months to breach the blockade.

The boat carried 10 passengers, seven of whom were medical patients. The military said it assigned medical staff to treat the patients who were on board.

The Israeli military defended its naval blockade, calling it "a necessary and legal security measure" to protect its citizens "in the face of terror and smuggling weapons."

In truth, it has crippled the fishing industry, once a mainstay of the economy. Fishermen are routinely shot at or apprehended for nearing the blockade limits.

Agencies contributed to this report.