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Israel closes Gaza goods crossing over Palestinian arson kites

AFP  |  Jerusalem 

closed its only goods crossing with the Strip today over weeks of fires at farms caused by kites and balloons carrying firebombs from the Palestinian enclave.

The arson attacks have led to increasing alarm among Israeli residents and farmers near the blockaded Strip and demands that authorities take action.

"The crossing will be closed except for (including and medicine) that will be approved on an individual basis," said in a statement.

"No exports or marketing of goods will be carried out from the Strip." It added that the move was also due to "additional terror attempts," referring to infiltrations and other incidents along the Gaza border.

The crossing, known as Kerem Shalom, is to remain closed until further notice.

Israeli authorities say the hundreds of arson kites and balloons sent over the border fence from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip have caused major damage to farms in the area.

A for Israel's fire service says 750 fires have burned 2,600 hectares, putting the damage at millions of shekels (hundreds of thousands of dollars/euros).

A month ago, the government estimated the damage at five million shekels.

Gazans began launching the kites in April amid mass protests along the border calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to their former homes now inside

Palestinians see the strategy as a way of inflicting economic damage on in protest without risking their lives by approaching the border fence.

Since protests and clashes broke out along the Gaza border on March 30, at least 139 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

The majority were involved in protests and clashes, but others were seeking to breach or damage the border fence.

No Israelis have been killed.

The closed crossing is the only one between Gaza and Israel for goods transport. A separate crossing, known as Erez, is for people.

Israel, which has fought three wars with Islamist movement since 2008, strictly controls both crossings.

Gaza's only other border crossing is with That crossing has been largely closed in recent years, but has opened it since mid-May.

UN officials and rights activists have repeatedly called for Israel to lift the blockade against Gaza, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, July 09 2018. 20:35 IST