IDF set to close Karni crossing into Gaza

By
January 13, 2011 23:45

Move would leave only two crossings into the Strip from Israel, only one suitable for goods; before Hamas takeover, 5 crossings into territory operated.

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The empty Karni crossing

Karni crossing 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

The IDF intends to close the Karni Crossing to Gaza and to move its large chutes for wheat, animal feed and gravel to the one at Kerem Shalom near the Egypt border, security sources told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The closure would leave only two crossings into the Strip from Israel: one for pedestrians at Erez in northern Gaza and one for goods at Kerem Shalom in the far south.

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Until 2007’s Hamas takeover of Gaza, there were five Israeli crossings into the territory; Karni had the largest capacity and was the major entry point for goods.

After the coup, Karni was closed, later to be reopened for wheat, animal feed and gravel only.

According to security sources, Karni is vulnerable to attack, cannot be fully reopened and will therefore be closed. The Karni terminal has been attacked several times by terrorists since the second intifada began in late 2000.

Activists have long argued that for “normal economic life” to be restored to Gaza, Karni must be fully reopened.

Security sources explained that the chutes would be moved to Kerem Shalom, whose capacity for goods is being expanded so that it can more properly replace Karni on all levels.

The Hamas government immediately slammed the planned closure of Karni, which it said was an attempt by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to strangle the Gaza Strip.

Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, said she was concerned that Kerem Shalom would be insufficient to replace Karni, even once it was fully expanded. She noted that there were security concerns at Kerem Shalom as well and that IDF soldier Gilad Schalit had been taken captive near that crossing.

Karni is more conveniently located because it is close to Gaza City and it is closer than Kerem Shalom to Ashdod Port, Bashi said. Replacing Karni with Kerem Shalom adds an additional 90 kilometers of travel for the movement of goods, she said.

“It does not bode well for economic activity or for the territorial integrity of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” she said.


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