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Israel Closes Gaza Goods Crossing after Balloon Attacks

Israel Closes Gaza Goods Crossing after Balloon Attacks

Tuesday, 11 August, 2020 - 04:45
A truck carrying goods arrives at Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, August 15, 2018. (Reuters)

Israel will close its goods crossing with the Gaza Strip, authorities said Monday, after militants in the Hamas-run territory fired rockets into the Mediterranean and launched incendiary balloons towards the Jewish state.


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, backed by the UN, Egypt and Qatar, the two sides clash sporadically with rockets, mortar fire or incendiary balloons.


Palestinian analysts say fire from Gaza often aims to pressure Israel to give the green light for the transfer of Qatari financial aid into the strip.


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