Hamas denounces closure of Gaza border crossings
On the 97th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration Israel declares it is closing crossings into Gaza
Palestinians search the debris of their homes destroyed during the last 50 day war on Gaza, 23 Oct. (AFP)
Published date: 13 February 2015 03:30 UTC | Last update: 5 years 11 months ago
Israel's closure of two border crossings to the Gaza Strip on Sunday has been denounced by Hamas as a violation of the cease-fire reached at the end of August to end the 50-day war between Hamas and Israel.
In a statement Hamas's deputy leader, Mussa Abu Marzouk, said the Israeli move was "childish and irresponsible" and he said the reason that Israel gave for the closures - a rocket fired into Israel on Friday - was illegitimate.
Abu Marzouk said the closures amounted to "collective punishment", and that new additional crossings should be opened instead of closing the existing crossings, which he said, are insufficient to meet the needs for the rehabilitation of Gaza.
After announcing that a rocket had been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Friday, the Israeli army said it would close the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings into the coastal territory until further notice.
This is the first time both crossings have been closed since the end of Operation Protective Edge.
The closure of Kerem Shalom, Gaza's only functioning commercial crossing, has caused anger in Gaza where people are living under siege.
During ceasfire negotiations following the 50 day war in which an estimated 2200 Palestinians and 71 Israelis were killed, Israel had said it would ease aspects of its blockade of Gaza.
But the closure of the Kerem Shalom, Gaza's only functioning commercial crossing, on Sunday, has raised fears that food and supplies urgently needed for the rebuilding of Gaza would be prevented from getting through.
Mounir al-Ghalban, the head of the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, told Anadolu Agency that Israeli authorities had not set a date for reopening either crossing and that only Palestinians in "a state of emergency" would be allowed to cross.
Blockaded by Israel since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world.
Six of these crossings are controlled by Israel, while the seventh – the Rafah crossing – is controlled by Egypt, which keeps it tightly sealed for the most part.
Israel sealed four of its commercial crossings with Gaza in June 2007 after Palestinian resistance movement Hamas took over control of the strip from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.
As it currently stands, Israeli authorities allow the Kerem Shalom crossing – which links Gaza to both Israel and Egypt – to operate for commercial purposes.
The Gaza-Israel Erez crossing, meanwhile, is generally devoted to the movement of individuals between Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Balfour declaration anniversary
Sunday 2nd November marked the 97th anniversary of the issuing of the Balfour Declaration.
Issued in 1917, the Balfour Declaration called for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
Reacting to the anniversary, Hamas issued a statement on Saturday declaring that "Palestinians would never accept being permanantly displaced from their homeland" or accept "the elimination of the Palestinian national cause."
The group called on the United Kingdom to shoulder its legal and moral responsibility for what it described as the "unjust" declaration.