Israel has halted all imports of tires into the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian Authority official said on Sunday.Groups of Palestinians in Gaza lit hundreds of tires on fire last Friday during the second weekend of a six-week-long planned protest in the border region between Israel and the coastal enclave.The protesters lit the tires in order to blur the vision of soldiers in the region and attempt to prevent them from opening fire, according to a Gaza-based source.
“We have been informed by the Israeli side that imports of tires have been halted until further notice,” Muhammad Hamdan, a spokesman for the PA Transportation Ministry told The Jerusalem Post.In the past week, Israeli officials have expressed considerable opposition to Palestinian protesters lighting tires on fire in the border region.Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, posted on his Twitter account last Friday that the protesters burned tires to provide cover for Hamas terrorists in Gaza, who he said “will try to storm the border, infiltrate Israel and kill Israelis.”He also lashed out at the protesters for burning tires, arguing that black tire smoke has detrimental health effects for people who breathe it in. Hamdan criticized Israel’s decision to stop tire imports to Gaza, asserting that there is a shortage of tires in the coastal enclave.“There is no doubt stopping tire imports will have a negative effect on Palestinians in Gaza especially considering there is shortage of them there,” he said. “We are going to exert all efforts so that Israel reverses its decision.”The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the branch of the Defense Ministry that liaises with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, did not respond to a request for comment.
IDF summary of Gaza protests on Friday, April 6 (IDF Spokesperson"s Unit)