IDF mulls closing Gaza lookout point

dichter shooting 24 88 (photo credit: David M. Weinberg)
dichter shooting 24 88
(photo credit: David M. Weinberg)
OC Southern Command Yoav Galant is considering declaring the Nizmit Hill observation point overlooking the Gaza Strip a closed military zone after an aide to Public Security Minister Avi Dichter was shot and wounded there on Friday. On Monday, Galant ordered military forces to close off access to the site, which is situated less than half a kilometer from the Gaza security fence and was targeted on Friday as Dichter and his aide Mati Gill toured the site together with a group of Canadian Jewish leaders. IDF sources said that while Galant had yet to finalize his decision, he was leaning toward declaring the area a closed military zone following claims by Dichter's office that if the area were dangerous, it should have been closed to the public. Nizmit Hill has served as a popular lookout point into northern Gaza in recent years and is adjacent to the fields of Kibbutz Nir Am. Dichter and Gill were leading a 15-member delegation of the Board of Governors of the Canada Israel Committee to the lookout point Friday when the group came under sniper fire that hit Gill's back. In reaction to the closure of the Nizmit Hill lookout, the Foreign Ministry, which on Sunday opened an office in Sderot to better coordinate foreign media coverage, fact-finding and solidarity missions, said there were other observation points from which visitors could get a perspective on the Gaza-Sderot situation. "If the security forces get wind of a threat to a specific point, they must warn people and close it down; if they didn't do so it would be serious negligence," Hanan Godar, the Foreign Ministry's Sderot official, said. Godar said there were other observation points around the Gaza envelope which were less vulnerable to sniper fire from Gaza, and which would now be used by the Foreign Ministry and other groups to take visiting delegations. Still, Godar warned that anyone visiting Sderot and the surrounding areas needed to be aware that they were entering a war zone. "Hamas fires at anything that moves on our side, because it is a terrorist organization," he said.