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Israel’s closure of Gaza crossings slammed as ‘collective punishment’

The Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel, closed on the Gaza-side by Hamas officials in response to the assasination of one of it's leaders, Mazen Fuqaha, in the Gaza Strip on March 24, 2016 [Mohammed Asad / Middle East Monitor]
The Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel, in the Gaza Strip on 24 March 2017 [Mohammed Asad / Middle East Monitor]

The Israeli authorities’ closure of the Gaza Strip’s Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) and Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossings constitutes an act of “collective punishment”, said Israeli NGO Gisha yesterday.

Kerem Shalom is the fenced-in enclave’s sole goods crossing, and Erez is Gaza’s sole crossing for people travelling between the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank and Israel.

According to Gisha, Israel announced the closing of the crossings on Wednesday night at around midnight.

A statement by the Israeli Land Crossing Authority said the move was made “in the wake of firing [of rockets] from the Gaza Strip into Israel”.

Read: Out-dated crossing agreements

The statement noted that Kerem Shalom will operate only for the transfer of gas and fuel, while travel through Erez will be restricted to foreign nationals, Israeli citizens and urgent medical cases.

Gisha notes that projectile fire from the Gaza Strip “does not justify collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza”, which “constitutes a serious violation of international law”.

“The day-to-day lives of two million residents of Gaza are dependent on the regular functioning of the crossings. Gaza residents rely on the crossings for entrance of basic supplies, including humanitarian aid, and for trade and livelihoods,” the NGO added.

The closing of Gaza’s crossings must not be used as an act of punishment.

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