Arab media reported overnight that Israel had delivered a message to the Gaza Strip residents that the Erez crossing would not be opened Sunday, except in special humanitarian cases. On Sunday morning, the IDF Spokesperson confirmed the shut down, which comes in the midst of reports of an agreement between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt, but also following last Friday’s Arab violence by the Gaza border fence.
In the latest “march of return” organized by Hamas, 5,000 Arabs participated—many of them Hamas employees. Two were killed in violent clashes with the IDF in several locations along the border fence. More than 100 Arabs were injured, and incendiary balloons were sent into Israeli territory, igniting several fires in the Israeli Gaza Envelope communities.
Four days ago, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, and it returned to full activity as part of the efforts to calm the situation in Gaza. On the same day, Liberman extended Gaza’s fishing area to nine nautical miles.
“It is important to emphasize that I am trying to separate the Hamas leadership from the wider Gazan public,” Liberman told Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation Reshet Bet Radio last week. “This is a clear message to the people of Gaza, if Israelis enjoy the quiet they also will enjoy it – violence does not pay off.”