Israeli closure of sole commercial crossing deepens suffering of Gazans


"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.

"There will be additional steps which I won't detail", he added.

Only humanitarian aid, medical supplies and food are being allowed in.

"The flotilla will set out at 11 a.m. tomorrow carrying sick and injured Palestinians who have been unable to travel overseas [for medical treatment] as a result of the blockade", Bassam Manasra, a spokesman for Gaza's National Committee for Breaking the Siege, said at a Monday press conference in Gaza City.

Adraee also went on to threaten Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, with further sanctions.

Israel and Egypt say the blockade is a necessary security measure against militants.

"Haniya informed the Russian side in detail about the situation in the Gaza Strip with a focus on the hard socio-economic situation stemming from the ongoing blockade by Israel", the ministry said.

"We will crack down immediately on the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip".

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Human rights groups have accused Israeli troops of using excessive force.

The group, which governs the enclave, described Monday's measure as a "crime against the people of Gaza", blaming the worldwide community's prolonged silence that encourages Israel's blockade on Gaza.

Since 30 March 2018, more than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire and thousands have been injured while participating in regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel security fence.

The flaming kites have set fires to forest and farmland, and have done some damage, though inflicted few casualties.

A Palestinian media agency that is known for being first on the scene and recording eyewitness videos of Israeli military atrocities against Palestinians has been banned by Israel, as the Israeli Defense Minister and former nightclub bouncer Avigdor Lieberman signed an order declaring Al-Quds TV to be a "terrorist" media organization. Tel Aviv made the move in response to Palestinians launching incendiary kites across the border.

Hamas won 2006 legislative elections and effectively booted the Palestinian Authority (PA) from power in Gaza in the wake of an armed conflict with Fatah, the leading party of the PA, after the latter rejected the election results.

The Israeli military also confirmed in a statement that the crossing would be closed later Monday.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, causing a sharp decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.