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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Fearful of a looming humanitarian disaster, Israel will allow food and other basic supplies into the Gaza Strip following Hamas's takeover of the coastal area, a senior government minister said Saturday.
"Our consideration is the humanitarian issue. Allowing merchandise through Karni in order to prevent hunger in Gaza is what will guide Israel to allow merchandise," Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told Channel 2.
Dichter said Hamas's conquest in Gaza signaled the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the government entity established under past peace accords. But he said the new reality has turned the West Bank into "an arena of opportunity" for Israel.
"Now Israel must have a completely different policy in Gaza," he said.
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He said a Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip should be treated as a "terror entity" and cut off its weapons supply. He said that could require Israel to deploy along Gaza's border with Egypt to halt weapons smuggling.
Earlier, dozens of Palestinians arrived at the Erez Crossing in an attempt to escape the Gaza Strip and enter Israel. IDF soldiers shot into the air to try to prevent the approaching crowds from infiltrating through the security fence.
Many of the Palestinians arrived at the crossing carrying large suitcases and were planning to run away from the Strip following Hamas's takeover.
One young man shouted "bye, bye, Gaza," and waved as he walked through the covered walkway that leads to the Israeli side.
Government spokesman Shlomo Dror said about 100 people arrived at the checkpoint but said only a small number of "humanitarian cases" were allowed to pass. He said many people were told to turn back.
At the same time, hundreds of people looted police positions on the Palestinian side of Erez. The looters walked off with furniture and scrap metal.
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