World View: Israel Will Close Crossing Point to Gaza in Retaliation for Incendiary Kites

Palestinian protestors prepare to fly a kite loaded with an incendiary during a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Jabalia in the central Gaza Strip on June 8, 2018. - Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave have used kites carrying burning cans to set ablaze Israeli fields, torching …

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Israel will close crossing point to Gaza in retaliation for incendiary kites
  • The incendiary kite attacks began with ‘The Great March for Return’

Israel will close crossing point to Gaza in retaliation for incendiary kites

Gate of Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, whose closure was announced on Monday. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Gate of Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, whose closure was announced on Monday. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing point between Israel and Gaza. The crossing is located near the Egyptian border and serves as the main entry point for commercial goods and humanitarian aid. The closing will lead to sharp cuts in the flow of commercial goods into Gaza, although humanitarian aid, food, and medicine will still be allowed through, approved on an individual basis.

The move is a retaliation for a wave of incendiary kites and balloons with firebombs attached launched in recent weeks from Gaza into Israel. Israeli authorities say that the firebombs have set fire to 7,000 acres of forest and farmland in southern Israel.

Netanyahu said that additional steps will be taken to try to stop the kites and balloons:

About Gaza, I have been telling you for some time that I do not intend to publicize in advance all the steps that we are taking or planning. But the Defense Minister and I agree that we will be heavy-handed with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip – immediately. In a significant step, today we are closing the Kerem Shalom crossing. There will be additional steps; I will not go into details.

An Israeli army statement announced an additional measure to be taken immediately. Gaza’s designated fishing zone will be reduced from nine to six nautical miles off the coast throughout the duration of the season. This is a reversal of a decision to expand the fishing zone. The fishing zone is usually six naval miles wide but was temporarily expanded to nine miles three months ago.

The statement added the following:

If Hamas continues in this direction, these decisions will continue and will intensify. The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for what is happening inside the Gaza Strip and coming out of it. Hamas is dragging the population of Gaza into the abyss, and the Israeli Defense Forces will continue to work to preserve Israel’s security interests.

A Hamas spokesman said that closing the crossing point was “a new crime against humanity added to the black record of the Israeli occupation against our Palestinian people and our people in the Gaza Strip.” He added:

International and regional silence for the crime of the suffocating siege imposed on the Gaza Strip for (nearly) 12 years has encouraged the Israeli enemy to carry on with its criminal measures that violate human rights and international laws. Therefore, Hamas calls on the international community to act immediately and prevent this crime and its dangerous consequences.

However, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the incendiary kites and balloons deserve even harsher punishment than what Israel inflicted on Gaza in Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 war in Gaza which killed 74 Israeli soldiers and thousands of Gaza civilians: “The way Hamas is conducting itself, it could pay a heavier price than it did in Protective Edge. This situation, in which every day our woodlands are being burned every day cannot continue,”

Liberman on Monday also announced that he was designing the Lebanon-based al-Quds television network as a terrorist organization, accusing it of being an arm of Hamas. This will permit Israel to impose economic sanctions on the network. However, a spokesman for the network said, “The decision on the al-Quds channel is another step of terror that joins the other violent decisions Israel has taken against the Palestinian people.” World Israel News and Middle East Eye and YNet News (Israel) and Times of Israel

The incendiary kite attacks began with ‘The Great March for Return’

The “Great March for Return” began on March 30 of this year, when thousands of Gazans demonstrated near the border fence separating Gaza from Israel and sometimes attempted to break through the fence. The objective was for Palestinians to exercise their “Right of Return” to regain the lands where their ancestors had lived prior to the 1947 war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

When the Great March for Return began, Israeli authorities were concerned that if a group of Gaza activists broke through the fence, they would attack Israeli homes. Israel’s army retaliated first with tear gas and then with live gunfire. During the first march, 16 Palestinians were killed and hundreds were wounded.

The demonstrations peaked on May 14, which the Palestinians commemorate as “Naqba Day” or “Catastrophe Day,” commemorating the founding, in 1948, of the state of Israel. In addition, May 14 is the day announced by the Trump administration when the official U.S. embassy to Israel will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

After that, the demonstrations on the Gaza border began to diminish, but there were replaced by a new tactic, the incendiary kites and balloons that have been in use to this day.

The incendiary kites and balloons appear to have baffled the Israeli military, which has not found a way to deal with them, putting the Netanyahu government under pressure to solve the problem. The announcements on Monday, including closing the Kerem Shalom crossing point between Israel and Gaza, is retaliation for the kites and balloons, but it remains to be seen whether the retaliatory acts will prevent them. Reuters and Israel National News

Related Articles:

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, Gaza, Hamas, Kerem Shalom, Egypt, Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Liberman, Operation Protective Edge, al-Quds television, Great March for Return, Naqba Day, Catastrophe Day
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