Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Israel seizes boat from Gaza seeking to break blockade

Israel seizes boat from Gaza seeking to break blockade

"In a significant move, we will today shut down the Kerem Shalom (border) crossing", Reuters quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying in broadcast remarks to his parliamentary faction.

Palestinians have been launching kites and balloons carrying containers of burning fuel and explosive devices over the Gaza-Israel border since April.

Israel also cut the area fishing boats are allowed to operate off Gaza's Mediterranean coast and blacklisted what it described as a pro-Hamas TV channel. "I will not go into details", he added.

Since Mar. 30, more than 130 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire - and thousands more injured - while taking part in regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel security fence.

Israel deems the protests a bid by Hamas to deflect scrutiny from Gaza's governance problems and provide cover for armed border attacks.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestinian land and its ongoing blockade, which has brought the impoverished Gaza Strip to the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.

"In agreement with the defense minister, we will act with a heavy hand against the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip", Netanyahu said.

Israel will shut down the Gaza Strip's main trade terminal in a new crackdown on the region.

"The damage being caused to agricultural lands in Israel is grave and deplorable, but collectively punishing almost two million people in Gaza by closing its only official crossing for the movement of goods is both illegal and morally depraved", it wrote on Twitter.

The IDF announced that humanitarian aid - including food and medicine - is still being allowed through, albeit with case-by-case approval of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), IDF Major General Kamil Abu Rokon.

An Israeli military statement said the Palestinian fishing zone off Gaza would revert to 11 km (6 miles) after being temporarily expanded to 17 km (9 miles).

"Hamas urges the worldwide community to immediately intervene", said Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for Hamas, which is deemed a terrorist group by Israel and the West. Israeli authorities say that the firebombs have set fire to 7,000 acres of forest and farmland in southern Israel.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

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