x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Israel blocks Gaza crossings

Israel snapped shut its crossings with the Gaza Strip today, accusing Gaza militants of violating a shaky truce.

Israel shut its border crossings with the Gaza Strip in what it called a response to a rocket attack a day earlier that further strained a ceasefire.
Israel shut its border crossings with the Gaza Strip in what it called a response to a rocket attack a day earlier that further strained a ceasefire.

JERUSALEM // Israel snapped shut its cargo crossings with the Gaza Strip today, accusing Gaza militants of firing a rocket at southern Israel in violation of a shaky truce. Gaza's Hamas rulers denied a rocket was fired yesterday evening, and accused Israel of looking for excuses to shirk its commitment under the cease-fire to ease its bruising blockade of Gaza. The Israeli military said its radar detected a rocket launched from Gaza that struck near the communal farm of Mefalsim. But actual rocket fragments were not located, it said.

"The closing of the border today is unjustified and another indication that the Israeli occupation is manuevering and trying to dodge the conditions of the calm understanding," Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas' spokesman said. Although Hamas denied a rocket launch, several militant factions operate inside Gaza, and Hamas would not be able to account for the actions of each fighter. Israel has taken a zero tolerance approach to any violation of the cease-fire. Since the truce went into effect on June 19, the crossings have been closed for five days because of continuing rocket and mortar attacks. None has caused serious injuries or damage.

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, declared today that nothing would stop Israel's "struggle to bring calm and security to the residents of the south." But Gaza's Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accused Israel of "backtracking on the calm." Abu Zuhri also accused the military today of shooting a 65-year-old Palestinian woman who lives near the Israel-Gaza border in what he called "a grave violation of the calm understanding."

The military said its preliminary investigation indicated Israeli troops were not involved. *AP