Responding to Hamas Torching Israeli Area Half the Size of Manhattan,
Israel Closes a Gaza Crossing to Commercial Traffic,Keeps Open for Humanitarian Aid
by Rolene Marks, World WIZO Executive: Public Diplomacy & Hasbara - Office of the Chairperson
“Fire Kites” and “Arson Balloons” launched by terror group Hamas have now burned land inside Israel equivalent to half the size of Manhattan, or more than 6,000 football fields. The flaming kites, birthday balloons and inflated latex condoms – sometimes packed with explosives – now spark daily blazes across southern Israeli farmland, parks and forests, killing wildlife in the process. "They are not toys, they are weapons that are intended to kill and inflict damage," said an IDF spokesperson.
In response, Israel has closed one of Gaza’s three crossings to commercial traffic, keeping it open for humanitarian goods, chiefly food and medicine. A second passage Israel operates will remain open for Palestinians in need of medical treatment at Israeli hospitals, businesspeople, students, and individuals praying at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Egypt, which controls a third crossing on its border with Gaza, only sporadically permits the flow of goods and construction materials.
Israel also announced a reduction in the size of the commercial fishing zone off Gaza’s coast. The measures are expected to increase economic hardship for Gaza’s businesses. Hamas accused Israel of committing a “new crime against humanity.” Israel said it was responding to the latest wave of Iranian-backed Hamas violence, including weekly riots along the Gaza border, now in its fourth month.
Israel regrets the painful economic and living conditions suffered by the people of Gaza. The Hamas practice of perpetrating violent attacks against Israel with international aid, which is intended to improve the lives of Palestinians, is shameful. Its pattern of stoking anti-Semitic hatred to deflect from Gaza’s faltering economy is the real crime against humanity.
The same border crossing closed by Israel was forced to shut down three times in May after attacks orchestrated by Hamas. Rioters set fire to fuel lines that supply Gaza, cutting off supplies of gasoline for cars, cooking fuel and diesel for generators to supplement scant electricity. Hamas plunged its own people into darkness this year after a rocket it fired into Israel struck a power plant supplying Gaza. Power lines from Egypt have been dormant for months, and a dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority shut down Gaza’s power plant earlier this year.
Despite four months of continuous border and "fire kite" attacks, Israel has refused to stop the flow of humanitarian goods, electricity and fuel into Gaza. Hamas, however, blocked medical supplies bound for Gaza hospitals from passing through the same crossing making headlines now when it learned the assistance came from Israel. In fact, Israel is the only country striving to keep that crossing open – despite Hamas’s own attacks on the passage.
For daily updates on exactly how many and which kinds of goods enter Gaza through Israel, click here.
A balloon loaded with incendiary material is flown towards Israel by Palestinians east of Gaza City on June 29, 2018. [source: AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS]
Firefighters extinguish a fire in a field caused by incendiaries attached to kites flown by Palestinians, from the Gaza Strip, June 27, 2018. [source: Flash90]