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Tuesday July 16, 2024

Israel closing key Gaza crossing ‘collective punishment’

By AFP
September 20, 2023

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Israel´s decision to shut a key crossing to workers from Gaza was slammed on Tuesday as “collective punishment” by an Israeli NGO and one of thousands of Palestinians affected.

Israel announced late Sunday it would keep the Erez crossing closed following a “security assessment” by defence officials. “The reopening of the crossing will be subject to ongoing evaluation based on the evolving situation in the region,” said COGAT, a unit of the Israeli defence ministry responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs.

Israel has issued work permits to some 18,500 Gazans, COGAT said on Tuesday. The decision to block their entry to Israel was condemned as “illegal collective punishment” by the Israeli NGO Gisha, which advocates for Palestinians´ freedom of movement.

The move is “harming Gaza workers and their families, as well as other permit holders who need to travel for humanitarian needs,” Gisha said in a statement. Gazan officials said medical cases were still allowed to use the crossing, which Israel had been due to reopen Monday following a shutdown due to Jewish holidays.

The extended closure follows repeated clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces along the border over the past few days. The clashes have seen Palestinians throw rocks and explosives towards Israeli forces, who have responded with gunfire and tear gas which have wounded multiple people.

The Israeli military also launched an air strike late Friday targeting a “military post” of the Islamist group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip. One of the Gazans affected, Kamal, said he and fellow workers “have nothing to do with the security situation in Gaza.”

“Closing Erez costs my family and me our food and living expenses,” said the 41-year-old construction worker, who gave only his first name for fear of reprisal from the Israeli authorities.