Israeli Tightens Embargo on Gaza, Blocks Fuel Shipments

Though the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed to most merchandise last week, fuel, food and medicine were exempted from that decision. Now, fuel has been temporarily added to the banned list

A Palestinian man rides on a truck carrying fruits as it arrives at Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 10, 2018.
REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Israel will allow no fuel to pass through its border crossing with the Gaza Strip from Tuesday morning until Sunday, thereby further tightening the blockade it imposed last week in response to the daily barrage of incendiary kites from Gaza.

Though the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed to most merchandise last week, fuel, food and medicine were exempted from that decision. Now, fuel has been temporarily added to the banned list.

>> Number of Trucks Going Into Gaza Strip at Low Point After Israel Announces Closure of Key Crossing

The statement published by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Monday night also said that food and medicine would be sent through the crossing only if each shipment is individually approved by the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. But in practice, food transfers are unlikely to be affected.

Also Monday night, Egypt announced that its Rafah crossing with Gaza would be closed as of Tuesday for technical reasons.

In addition, Israel further reduced the area in which Gaza fishermen are allowed to fish, from six miles off the coast to three.

“In light of the continued terror attempts by the Hamas terrorist organization, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in consultation with the chief of staff, has decided to close the Kerem Shalom crossing to imports of oil and gas until this Sunday,” the statement said. “The crossing will continue to transfer food and medicine [shipments] that are individually approved.

‘’This closure is happening after arson attacks on the Gaza envelope continued today,” the statement added, referring to Israeli communities near Gaza. “Israel attacked two Hamas positions in Gaza, and the organization responded by firing a rocket at Israel that exploded inside Gaza.”

The number of trucks carrying food into the Gaza Strip last week was the lowest it’s reached in several months. According to Defense Ministry figures, in the 24 hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing to goods, 193 trucks entered the Strip, 171 of those carrying food, medicine and hygiene products.