Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered fuel and gas be banned from entering the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing starting Thursday until further notice.
According to the IDF, some 7,000 Palestinians participated in last Friday's demonstrations along the border, with several violent riots breaking out in which protesters threw firebombs, stones and tear gas canisters, and burned tires. Authorities in Gaza said three Palestinian demonstrators – including two teenagers – were killed by Israeli army fire.
Two fires broke out in southern Israeli communities last Friday, one of which as a direct result of a firebomb from Gaza. In recent weeks, Israeli fields and forests near the Gaza border have been set ablaze by incendiary kites and helium-filled balloons launched from the Strip. Some balloons carried small explosive devices in a new tactic.
- Israeli tightens embargo on Gaza, blocks fuel shipments
- Three Palestinians, including 2 teens, said dead in Gaza border protest
- Hamas willing to rein in launchers of flaming kites, Israeli defense sources say
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel will close the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza over the airborne firebombs being sent into Israel in recent weeks.
Though the crossing was closed to most merchandise earlier this month, fuel, food and medicine were exempted from that decision. Fuel was later temporarily added to the list of of items blocked through the crossing. Lieberman's announcement on Wednesday made that decision permanent.
Kerem Shalom is the only crossing for goods into the Gaza Strip – there are two other crossings, but their use is limited. The Erez crossing is used by people only, while the Rafah crossing, on the border with Egypt, opens from time to time to allow the passage of goods and construction materials.
In the previous announcement, Netanyahu had said the crossing would be shut to all goods but humanitarian supplies such as food and medicine, the IDF said, adding that such supplies would be allowed into Gaza only on the basis of case-by-case approval by the government's coordinator for the territories.
Last Monday, the Gaza Strip's only power company announced a further reduction in the enclave's electricity supply after its sole power station stopped functioning. As a result, Gazans will lack power for 18 hours a day instead of 16. Meanwhile, a power line used to deliver electricity from Israel has been cut off for about a week.