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Hamas warns of consequences as Israel tightens Gaza siege, halts fuel transfer

Trucks arrive at the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering the Gaza Strip, in the city of Rafah, on July 9, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has warned Israel of “dangerous consequences” as the regime tightens its inhumane siege on the Gaza Strip by blocking fuel shipments into the coastal enclave.

On July 9, Israel imposed sanctions on Gaza in what it described as a crackdown against Hamas. The regime closed the Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s main conduit for trade, to most merchandise, except for fuel, food and medicine.

The Israeli military said the closure would continue as long as Palestinian protesters send kites and balloons loaded with flammable material into the occupied lands.

On Monday night, Israeli minister of military affairs’ office announced in a statement that Avigdor Lieberman had decided to halt fuel transfer into Gaza from Tuesday morning until Sunday in response to what it called “terror attempts” by Hamas, which runs Gaza.

“Lieberman, in consultation with the chief of staff, has decided to close the Kerem Shalom crossing to imports of oil and gas until this Sunday,” the statement read. “The crossing will continue to transfer food and medicine [shipments] that are individually approved.”

The statement also noted that Israel had reduced the area where Gaza fishermen were allowed to fish, from six nautical miles to three.

In response, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned Israel’s closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing as a crime against Palestinian people.

“The Israeli occupation’s closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing and depriving Gaza from the most simple necessities of life is a crime against humanity that will be added to its list of crimes at the expense of the Palestinian people including those living in the Strip,” he said in a statement.

“These vengeful measures reflect the degree of the oppression and the ugliness of the crime that Gaza is facing, that will have dangerous consequences for which the occupation will bear full responsibility,” he added.

According to latest reports, the number of trucks, which carried food into the Gaza Strip last week, was the lowest in recent months.

Separately on Monday, Egyptian officials manning the Rafah border crossing with Gaza said it would not be operating Tuesday in both directions, without providing reasons. The crossing has been open since late May.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv is continuing its airstrikes against Gaza. On Monday, the Israeli air force hit two alleged Hamas positions in northern Gaza.

The Israeli strikes came two days into a fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas amid a major flare-up in Gaza over the weekend.

Israel says it has lost at least 2,500 acres of farmland, nature reserves and forests because of the fires caused by flaming kites and balloons.

Israel carries out regular air raids on Palestinians in Gaza under the pretext of hitting Hamas targets. The Gaza Strip has also been under an inhumane Israeli siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008.

Tensions have been running high near the Gaza fence since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

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