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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Israel closes Erez border crossing with Gaza after shooting at protesters

The post is the sole foot crossing for travel into Israel or the West Bank from Gaza

Demonstrators march with placards during a protest at the Palestinians side of Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel, in Beit Hanoun. AP Photo
Demonstrators march with placards during a protest at the Palestinians side of Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel, in Beit Hanoun. AP Photo

Israel on Wednesday closed its sole pedestrian border crossing with Gaza after opening fire on nearby protests by Palestinians the day before.

Earlier this week, demonstrations erupted at the Erez crossing, the only point for travel into Israel or the West Bank from Gaza by foot.

Israel's military opened fire on Palestinians, claiming protesters hurled rocks at the crossing and damaged infrastructure.

Gaza's Health Ministry said several people were wounded by Israeli fire on Tuesday.

"Yesterday, a violent riot was instigated in the area of the Erez crossing, with the participation of hundreds of Palestinian rioters," the army said, referring to the protests. "Subsequently, it was decided to close the Erez crossing until the damage caused by the rioters will be repaired."

Palestinians were protesting the United State's announcement that they would cut all funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), which helps nearly three million people. The US is the agency's biggest funder, and has plunged the 70-year-old agency into crisis in January with its announcement of a $300 million funding freeze.

In Gaza, most children attend UNRWA-run schools whose funding beyond the end of this month is now in doubt, along with that of the agency's network of clinics and food distribution centres.

Israel reopened Erez on August 27 after an 11-day closure following previous clashes, as part of its policy of easing its decade-long air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip when calm is maintained.

The sole goods crossing between Israel and Gaza, Kerem Shalom, remains open.

Protests have broken out at the border crossing since March, partly from frustration at the Israeli-Egyptian blockage which has been in place since 2007, and partly to protest the United States moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Since then, at least 125 protesters have been killed by Israeli fire. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Gaza sniper in the same period.

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