Two rounds of attacks on the Kerem Shalom crossing Sunday saw rockets and mortars exploded in the goods loading area, forcing Israel to close the border and temporarily halt the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza. An Israeli Defense Ministry statement said:
Footage from security cameras showed several shells hitting the ground, exploding with bright flashes and releasing puffs of smoke that hung in the air. The Israeli border authority said that at around 6 a.m. local time, a deliberate and continuous barrage of shells slammed into the compound.
Since Operation Protective Edge started on July 8th, Israel has kept the Kerem Shalom crossing open for the flow of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. After shells repeatedly exploded in the compound, the Israeli Defense Ministry decided to immediately close the crossing in order to guarantee the safety of its workers.
After continuous and intentional rocket fire at the Kerem Shalom Crossing this morning and this afternoon, during which trucks carrying flammable materials to the Gaza Strip were almost hit, we took the exceptional decision to close the crossing in order to protect the lives of workers and traders. The crossing was open throughout Operation Protective Edge despite constant firing in its vicinity and is the sole artery for the passage of vital humanitarian goods and equipment to the residents of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has a history of targeting areas which benefit Palestinians. This Kerem Shalom incident is similar to attacks on the Erez industrial zone in 2005, which eventually caused 4,500 workers to lose their jobs.
The joint Palestinian and Israeli industrial zones are a preferred target for the terrorist organizations’ attacks. The terrorist organizations take advantage of the convenience of terrorists reaching those areas, ignoring the huge damage they cause to their people. More than 4,500 workers work in the Erez industrial zone, with average wage of 90 NIS a work day comparing to an average wage of 50 NIS inside the Gaza Strip.
Hamas is willing to place this burden upon Palestinians, as veteran Haaretz reporter Amos Harel wrote:
Hamas believes the price of a full cease-fire without real achievements is higher than continuing to fight.
Israel plans to reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing as soon as it has been confirmed to be safe.
[Photo: IDF YouTube video screenshot]