Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Hamas says Egypt closing Gaza border 'crime against humanity'

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Hamas on Tuesday sharply criticized Egypt's closure of the Rafah border crossing, saying Cairo's tightening of restrictions on the Palestinian territory was a "crime against humanity."

"The Egyptian authorities' insistence on closing the Rafah crossing and tightening the Gaza blockade... is a crime against humanity by all standards and a crime against the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.

He condemned "the continuation of this blockade and closing the crossing, all whilst Israel escalates and (increases) aggression".

"We hold all parties to the blockade of Gaza completely responsible for the consequences of this crime," he said.

Egypt has severely restricted access through the border city of Rafah -- Gaza's only gateway to the world that is not controlled by Israel -- ostensibly for security reasons.

The Hamas interior ministry says Rafah, for many Gazans the only passage in and out of the territory and a crucial crossing for supplies, has now been closed for 39 straight days. more

Israeli warships fire at Palestinian fishermen near Gaza coast

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warships late Monday fired at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, fishermen said.

Fishermen told Ma'an Israeli forces fired at them off the coast of Khan Younis. No injuries were reported, but the fishermen said they were forced to sail back to shore.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the boat had "deviated from its designated fishing zone."

"Israeli navy soldiers called on the boat to stop, but once it failed to comply, they opened fire in its vicinity" and it returned to its designated area.

The incident comes a day after the Israeli military exchanged fire with Palestinian militants on the shore in southern Gaza in a late-night face-off. more

PA Official: Israel to reopen Kerem Shalom crossing Wednesday

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel will reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after keeping it closed for six consecutive days, a Palestinian official said.

Nazmi Muhanna, the Palestinian Authority director of border crossings, told Ma'an Tuesday that Israeli officials had informed the Palestinian side that the Kerem Shalom crossing would resume operations Wednesday.

The crossing was open Sunday and Monday, but only for fuel deliveries.

Israel shut down the crossing last Wednesday in the wake of a flare-up of violence that began when an Israeli airstrike killed three Palestinian militants in southern Gaza the day before.

Militant groups in Gaza then fired barrages of rockets at Israeli towns, causing minor damages but no injuries. Israel hit back with airstrikes.

With the Rafah crossing with Egypt regularly closed, Gaza has become dependent on goods brought from Israel via Kerem Shalom. more