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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Gaza people crossing closed by Israel   

The closure follows renewed protests and clashes at border

A protesters try to kicks back a teargas canister while others run to cover from teargas fired by Israeli troops near the fence of the Gaza Strip border with Israel, during a protest east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. AP
A protesters try to kicks back a teargas canister while others run to cover from teargas fired by Israeli troops near the fence of the Gaza Strip border with Israel, during a protest east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. AP

Israel closed its only crossing for people with the Gaza Strip on Sunday except for humanitarian cases, blaming border protests and clashes at the weekend, an Israeli official said.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli defence ministry unit that controls access to the Erez crossing confirmed that had been closed.

On Friday, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire.

Israel's army claimed firebombs and explosive devices were also hurled at the border fence, while Palestinians briefly crossed into Israeli territory.

The closure and border incidents occurred despite attempts by Egypt and UN officials to reach a lasting truce between Israel and Hamas, the movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The spokeswoman for the defence ministry unit, known as COGAT, did not say how long the crossing would be closed.

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The Palestinian Authority civilian affairs office in Gaza also confirmed the closure except for medical cases and Palestinians seeking to cross back into the enclave.

Israel has enforced an air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, but grants permission to a limited number of people to cross.

Israel last week reopened its only goods crossing with Gaza after closing it to most deliveries for more than a month because of border tensions.

Protests and clashes began on the Gaza border on March 30 and have continued at varying levels since then.

At least 171 Gazans have been killed by Israeli fire during that time. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper in July.

There have also been several serious military flare-ups, including three since July.

UN officials and Egypt have been seeking to secure a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel to allow for humanitarian issues in the impoverished enclave of two million people to be addressed.

Israel is demanding calm and a return of the remains of two soldiers Hamas is believed to be holding.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

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