Israel reopens goods crossing into Gaza Strip after calm in clashes | News | DW | 15.08.2018
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Israel reopens goods crossing into Gaza Strip after calm in clashes

The gesture to reopen Israel's only goods crossing with the Gaza Strip comes as Egypt and the UN seek a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Recent flare-ups in violence have threatened to escalate into war.

Israel reopened its only commercial goods crossing to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, following a period of relative calm after months of tension along the frontier.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the crossing was reopened "as a clear message to residents of the Gaza Strip: Quiet pays and violence does not pay." 

Read more: 'Most' Israelis and Palestinians oppose two-state solution

Israel closed the Kerem Shalom crossing on July 9, partly in response to Palestinians floating incendiary balloons across the border. Large swaths of land and forests in southern Israel have burned as a result.

Israel also expanded Gaza's fishing zone to 9 nautical miles off the southern coast and to 6 nautical miles in the north, closer to Israel.

Gaza fishermen | Fischer (picture-alliance/NurPhoto/M. Fathi)

Fishing is key source of income for a few thousand fishermen and helps feed the population.

Closing the crossing to commercial goods as well as intermittently to fuel imports, including since August 2, have exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation for the Gaza Strip's 2 million inhabitants.

Read more: Gaza feels bite of US cuts to Palestinian aid

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2008. Human rights groups and the UN have described the policy as collective punishment.

Egypt and the UN have been trying to broker a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel after several bouts of cross border violence threatened to escalate into war.

Last week, frontier skirmishes triggered Hamas and other militant factions in the Gaza Strip to fire scores of rockets into Israel, which responded in turn with air strikes on the enclave.

Gaza protests against the decade-old blockade of the enclave have led to at least 169 Palestinians including children, medics and journalists being killed by Israeli fire since March 30. Thousands more have been injured. 

One Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper in July and several civilians have been injured from rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

cw/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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