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Israel’s extension of Gaza border closure halts Palestinian labourers' work

September 19, 2023 at 3:24 pm

A police officer takes security measures in front of the closed Kerem Shalom border crossing on September 05, 2023 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Israel announced today the indefinite closure of the Gaza border crossing, barring Palestinian labourers from commuting to work in the occupation state, reported Haaretz.

The decision comes after a weekend of protests, during which hundreds of Palestinians burned tyres to voice their opposition against the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem by Israeli settlers celebrating the Jewish New Year.

Over 300 illegal Israeli settlers forced their way into the Muslim holy site on Sunday, under police protection, to mark the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Following the announcement made by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) yesterday, the Beit Hanoun (Erez) border crossing between Gaza and Israel will continue to stay shut to Palestinian labourers for an additional 24 hours.

The closures are standard practice during the Jewish national holiday of Purim, which the military claims is a preventative measure. However, these checkpoints were originally anticipated to resume operations on Sunday at midnight, but the Beit Hanoun (Erez) border crossing’s closure has persisted since then.

Exceptions will be made for humanitarian and other outstanding cases. Still, they will require the approval of COGAT, the occupation force in charge of Palestinian affairs in the occupied territories.

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The Israeli measures include the closure of all major roads, setting up military checkpoints and the intensification of the army’s presence, as well as the closure of all crossings around the Gaza Strip, tightening the siege even further.

Human rights group Gisha – Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement told Haaretz that the closures of the border crossings due to the protests constitutes “illegal collective punishment which severely harms labourers and their families, as well as others who received exit passes for urgent humanitarian needs.”

All such abusive and oppressive actions against Palestinians are said to be needed as a means of “securing the celebrations of the settlers.”

Last year was the first year in five years in which a closure was not imposed on the occupied West Bank. These closures further damage and limit the growth of the Palestinian economy.