Israel will keep its border crossing with Gaza shut for the second day, preventing Gazan workers and traders from entering the country, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said after a situation assessment meeting on Sunday.
Israel's initial decision to close the crossing came in response to two rocket launches from Gaza into Israel over the weekend, in a bid to generate internal pressure on Hamas.
The rocket fire came amid near-daily clashes at the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem over the past week, with Palestinians hurling stones and fireworks and Israeli police entering the compound and firing rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades.
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In the meeting on Sunday, which included Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar and the director of Military Intelligence, Gantz cited security concerns related to Jerusalem tensions and Hamas escalation behind the decision to keep the Erez crossing shut, saying "Ramadan is supposed to be a holiday of prayer and family gathering. Unfortunately, there are those who hold in their hands stones and Molotov cocktails instead of holy books.""In recent days terrorist organizations in Gaza have fired on Israeli territory, and the responsibility for this lies with Hamas," Gantz said.
"Those whose economic, civilian and military situation is unstable will be severely affected by any upheaval," Gantz warned, adding that Israel would "continue to show civic and economic generosity only if security stability is maintained."
Defense officials hold that at this stage, with all sides trying to avoid escalation, civilian pressure on Hamas will be more effective than airstrikes in light of the significant contribution to the Strip's economy made by Gazans who earn wages in Israel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.