Israel cancels Jerusalem entry permits for 500 Gazans after rocket

Israel had relaxed restrictions ahead of Ramadan which began last week

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Israel said Wednesday it was revoking permits for 500 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to enter Jerusalem ahead of Friday prayers because of rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave.

A spokeswoman for COGAT, the defense ministry unit which coordinates with Gaza, told AFP the move to cancel part of its measures easing restrictions on Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan applied to this week only and was “because of the rocket” which hit southern Israel on Tuesday night, causing no injuries.

Israel had relaxed restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip ahead of Ramadan which began last week, including letting up to 800 Gazans enter Jerusalem for prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, each Friday of the month.

The defense ministry had said the measures were conditional on a continued lull in violence, which was broken late Friday with the killing of an Israeli hiker in the West Bank and the stabbing of a policeman in east Jerusalem on Sunday.

Israel had on Sunday revoked entry permits for residents of the West Bank village home to the Palestinian who had stabbed the policeman.

It also cancelled permission for 500 West Bank Palestinians to fly via Israel’s Ben Gurion airport.

Israeli aircraft had struck in Gaza following Tuesday’s rocket attack, with Palestinian security sources saying the raid hit farmland in northern Gaza, causing no injuries or damage.

It was the fifth such incident in just under a month, and was claimed -- like all recent incidents of firing on southern Israel -- by a radical Islamist organization loosely allied with the Islamic State group.

Israel says it holds Hamas, the Islamist movement which de facto rules the Gaza Strip, responsible for any fire from its territory.

The last rocket to hit Israel was on June 6 and was followed within hours by an Israeli air strike into the coastal strip.

Israel went to war against Hamas last summer with the aim of stamping out cross-border rocket and mortar attacks.

The 50-day conflict killed about 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

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