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Israel closes crossing to Gazans in latest ‘collective punishment’

1. Gaza
Palestinians wave national and Islamic flags inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex following prayers of the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on April 22, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM  — Palestinians in Gaza have denounced Israel’s move to close the only crossing from the Gaza Strip for workers on Sunday as a means of collective punishment against Gaza residents, who have lived under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade for nearly 15 years, according to Al-Jazeera News.اضافة اعلان

Israel claims the closure is in response to three rockets that were fired from Gaza towards Israel on Friday and Saturday, one of them reaching Israeli territory, the other falling short and striking near a residential building in northern Gaza, sources on both sides said.

The third rocket was fired at Israel on Saturday morning, according to Israeli forces.

The rocket attacks on Friday night and Saturday morning came after days of violence at Al-Aqsa mosque compound and a month of deadly violence.

Israel had retaliated against the rockets with air strikes, but later shifted its response to the painful economic measure of closing the Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing, implying that further rockets would extend the penalty.

“Following the rockets fired toward Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip last night, it was decided that crossings into Israel for Gazan merchants and workers through the Erez Crossing will not be permitted this upcoming Sunday,” said COGAT, a unit of the Israeli defense ministry responsible for Palestinian civil affairs.

“The re-opening of the crossing will be decided in accordance with a security situational assessment,” added COGAT.

Employment in Israel is a lifeline for people in Gaza, where according to a recent World Bank report nearly half of the 2.3 million population is unemployed.

There are currently 12,000 Gazans with permits to work in Israel, and the government recently announcing its intention to add another 8,000.

The escalating unrest prompted concern at the UN, which on Thursday demanded a probe into the actions of Israeli police.

“The use of force by Israeli police resulting in widespread injuries among worshippers and staff in and around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound must be promptly, impartially, independently and transparently investigated,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

‘Incitement’

More than 200 people, mostly Palestinians, have been wounded by violence in and around Al-Aqsa in the past week.

Palestinians have been outraged by massive Israeli police deployment and repeated visits by Jews to the holy site.

And earlier on Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said 57 Palestinians were wounded after police stormed the mosque and attacked worshippers with rubber coated bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas, according to Al-Jazeera.

Al-Aqsa — which Jews call the Temple Mount — is Islam’s third-holiest site, and by long-standing convention, Jews are allowed to visit under certain conditions but are not allowed to pray inside.

A short distance from Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem’s Old City, thousands of Orthodox Christians celebrated the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, after two years of smaller events due to the COVID pandemic.

Anthony Botros said that being able to participate in the ceremony was “honestly surreal.”

“I would not have imagined I would ever be here. It’s something you can’t describe, you just have to be there and experience it. Just tears. So peaceful,” the 25-year-old Canadian told AFP.

However, Israeli forces prevented thousands of Palestinian Christians from entering the old city of Jerusalem to reach the Sepulcher Church inside the old city to mark Easter’s Holy Fire ceremony, reported the Palestinian news agency, Wafa.


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