The Gaza Strip finds itself again isolated after Israel shut down the border crossings in both Erez and Kerem Shalom. Egypt closed its border with Gaza after the 24 October attacks in North Sinai that killed at least 30 members of the armed forces.
The two borders on the Israeli side were closed early Sunday in response to rocket fire from Gaza into the Eshkel region, in southern Israel. According to Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner of the Israeli army no causalities or damage occurred.
This is the first time the Gaza-Israeli borders have been closed since the ceasefire agreement between the two sides, following a bloody conflict that lasted for over a month in August.
Hamas condemned the border closing and described it as a “juvenile act”, in a statement released on Sunday. The organisation also noted that “such an act is considered a violation to the ceasefire agreement” initiated by the Egyptian authorities.
The Palestinian interior ministry has asked Egypt to re-open the Rafah border crossing as soon as possible for cases of humanitarian travel.
“There are thousands of urgent cases that need to travel from Gaza,” Palestinian interior ministry spokesman Iyad AlBazam said in a statement. “We hope that the Egyptian authorities take into account the crises our citizens are facing.”
The Rafah-Gaza border was closed on 25 October, with the total number of days the border has been closed in 2014 placed at 189, according to Palestinian Authority statements.
Meanwhile, Egypt continues its evacuation of Rafah residents in an effort to create a buffer zone in order to eliminate tunnels that lead into the Gaza Strip.
The closings come at a difficult time for the Gaza Strip, which has been relying on the transfer of goods and construction materials in an effort to rebuild following this summer’s conflict with Israel.
According to an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman: “The crossing points for people and goods, Erez and Kerem Shalom, have been closed until further notice except for humanitarian aid.”