Kerem Shalom crossing burning on the Palestinian side after Friday protests .
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Israel has closed the main commercial crossing into the Gaza Strip in light of the continued launching of incendiary aerial devices from the Hamas-run coastal enclave towards southern Israel, the IDF announced Monday.
The military stated that there would be no export or marketing of goods from the Gaza Strip except for humanitarian supplies such as food and medicine which will be approved on a individual basis by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)
In addition, the expansion of the fishing area in the Gaza Strip for the fishing season over the last three months from six nautical miles to nine nautical miles, which ends today, will not be extended, and the fishing area will be returned today to six miles.
The decision was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman after accepting the recommendations by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.
“The State of Israel wants and works to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip in many ways. However, in light of the situation in which the Hamas terrorist organization exploits the residents of the Gaza Strip and launches kites and explosive firebombs towards the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip and does not allow the continuation of the routine in the vicinity, these steps were taken.
An estimated 28,000 dunams have been burnt by aerial incendiary devices such as kites, balloons and condoms, since March 30th. The IDF warned Monday that “if this trend persists, these measures will continue and even intensify.”
“The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip and its consequences. Hamas is dragging the residents of the Gaza Strip into an abyss, and the IDF will continue to act as necessary to preserve the security interests of the State of Israel,” the military added.
According to Liberman, Israel will not accept the reality in which Israeli fields and forests are being burnt on a daily basis.
“We do not intend to continue this way,” he said adding that he has instructed the IDF and COGAT “to take a number of steps.”
Noting the four-year anniversary of the IDF's Operation Protective Edge, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman issued a warning to Hamas at his Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting.
"We are not looking for conflict or military adventures, but the conduct of Hamas, it is deteriorating the situation to the point that it might have to pay a much heavier price than it did in Protective Edge," Liberman said, referring to the operation in which more than 1000 Hamas terrorists were killed.
Liberman stated that while Israel has prepared a humanitarian package which would “dramatically ease” the conditions of the Gaza Strip, Israel is only prepared to provide it in exchange for similar steps by Hamas, namely returning the bodies of missing IDF soldiers Lt.-Hadar Goldin and St.Sgt. Oron Shaul as well as two missing civilians.
“If anyone thinks he can get there without far-reaching concessions to resolve the issue of POWs and MIAs, it will not happen. I have stood here very clearly and I will oppose the entire concept and approach that can be taken unilaterally without easing the issue of prisoners and missing persons,” he said.
Earlier on Monday Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid claimed that Netanyahu wasn’t doing enough to combat the incendiary aerial devices which have ravaged southern Israel, claiming the prime minister is “waiting for the Americans.”
“For four years he has done nothing regarding Gaza,” he said. “He knew, we all knew that there would be a new round of violence, but he did nothing. And now the round of violence has come. Our fields are being burned.
“The army needs to be given a bigger toolbox to deal with this,” Lapid added.