Israel strikes Gaza militant sites, Palestinians fire rockets

"Due to continuing attempts by Hamas to carry out terrorist attacks, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, after consultation with the IDF chief of staff, chose to halt the transfer of gasoline via Kerem Shalom until next Sunday", read a statement released by the Defense Ministry.

Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Kanou said that the decision reflects Israel's "bad intention" and plan to "commit more crimes against the Palestinians".

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, two Palestinian teenagers were killed in an airstrike on a building that was directly on top of a Hamas terror tunnel.

Israel had also announced plans to reduce Gaza's designated fishing zone from six nautical miles off the Gaza Strip to three.

The flare-up began on Friday, when thousands of Palestinians gathered at the Israel-Gaza border area for weekly protests that have now entered their fourth month.

Israel placed new restrictions on its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in response to continued Hamas hostilities, even after it agreed to a cease-fire ending 24 hours of intense fighting.

Israel is cracking down on the Gaza Strip by placing new restrictions amid ongoing violence from Palestinians.

Israel says some 2,500 acres of nature reserves and parks close to Gaza have been burnt thus far and it is reported to have delivered messages to Hamas that if the fires continue, it risks sparking a full-fledged war, like the three they have waged over the past decade.

The tightening of the blockade comes after Saturday's heaviest exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza since the 51-day Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2014.

The Israeli non-governmental organisation Gisha, which promotes freedom of movement for Palestinians, said the "shutting down of Gaza's main lifeline is an abhorrent act of illegal collective punishment against the two million residents of Gaza, most of whom are children".

The Israeli army said air strikes carried out in the morning hit "complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror training facility".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at an Israeli community near the Gaza border in defense of the new limitations.

Also Saturday, Nikolai Mladinov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, reportedly held talks with several Israeli and Egyptian officials in an attempt to restore calm to the region.

It accuses Hamas of seeking to use the protests as cover for attacks against Israel. Israel says the naval blockade is necessary to protect its citizens from weapon smuggling.

The former is equipped to handle Gaza's commercial and humanitarian needs while Erez and the Rafah crossing into Egypt's Sinai primarily accommodate pedestrian traffic.


Popular

CONNECT