MK Dov Henin (Hadash) on Sunday appealed to Defense Minister Ehud Barak to open the border crossings to the Gaza Strip, which the ministry decided to close in response to rocket fire from Gaza toward Ashkelon last week.
The Kerem Shalom crossing is used to transfer goods between Israel and Gaza while the Erez crossing, which was also shut except for urgent cases, is used for people to cross over the border. Henin urged Barak to stop any act of collective punishment on the Strip.
On Sunday morning the Defense Ministry announced that the crossing would remain closed in what it defined as a moderate response to gunfire from Gaza on Saturday. Palestinians in Gaza rioted near the border fence with Israel on Friday, firing guns in the direction of IDF soldiers, throwing stones and throwing Molotov cocktails, the IDF Spokesman's Office stated.
In a letter to Barak, Henin wrote: "The recent steps are not derived from concrete security needs but indicate a new policy in managing the issues with Gaza, which constitute measures of collective punishment to the local population, which contradicts Defense Ministry statements about the need to distinguish between the civilian population and Gazan terrorists."
Henin stressed that this type of punishment is forbidden under international law and "if this is indeed a new policy, then it is a dangerous policy that has already proven to be ineffective in the past."
He urged the ministry to return to its previous policy and warned that acting against that policy can only do harm and create a fertile ground for escalation between the two sides.