Israel closes Gaza crossing after balloon, rocket attacks

A member of Palestinian Hamas security forces stands outside the Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on August 11, 2020. (File photo: AFP)

Israel will close its goods crossing with the Gaza Strip, authorities said Monday, after militants fired rockets into the Mediterranean and launched incendiary balloons towards Israel.

The Kerem Shalom crossing will be closed to all traffic except humanitarian equipment and fuel from Tuesday, COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees the crossings, said in a statement.

The move comes in response to the “continued launching of incendiary balloons” from Gaza, it added.

Israeli sources said late Monday that several balloons had landed in areas of southern Israel, without causing casualties.

Explosives tied to balloons and kites first emerged as a weapon in Gaza during intense protests in 2018, when the devices drifted across the border daily, causing thousands of fires in Israeli farms and communities.

In the past week, such balloons have been launched three times from Gaza into Israel, each time triggering retaliatory strikes against Hamas positions.

Hamas also fired several rockets into the sea on Monday after repeated exchanges of fire with Israel in recent days, Palestinian security sources and eyewitnesses said.

The rockets were a “message” to Israel to let it know that armed groups in Gaza will not “remain silent” in the face of an Israeli blockade and “aggression,” a source close to Hamas told AFP.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.

Despite a truce last year, the two sides clash sporadically with rockets, mortar fire or incendiary balloons.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 11 August 2020 KSA 21:12 - GMT 18:12
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