On Wednesday, September 5, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) closed the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The move followed violent demonstrations held on Tuesday, September 4, to denounce an announcement by the United States that it would end all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Reports indicate that several Palestinian protesters were injured in clashes with security forces on September 4. According to the IDF, Palestinian protesters damaged infrastructure at the border crossing. Israeli military officials have stated that the crossing would remain closed until repairs were completed. Further demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border are possible in the coming days and weeks.
On August 31, the Trump administration announced that the US would cease all funding to the UNRWA. As the US has long been the UNRWA's largest contributor, advocates warn that this move could lead to a chain reaction of humanitarian consequences.
Palestinian protesters have rallied at the Gaza border fence weekly since March 30 in a Hamas-supported movement dubbed "The Great March of Return." More than 170 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have been killed in border clashes since the protests began.
Individuals present in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are advised to monitor developments and to avoid all protests and demonstrations due to the persistent risk of violence. Some Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and areas near the Israeli-Lebanese, Israeli-Syrian, and Israeli-Egyptian borders.
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