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Israel/Palestinian Terr./Egypt: Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza closed July 17 /update 2

Israel closes Kerem Shalom crossing on Gaza border July 17 until further notice, also suspending shipments of fuel to Gaza Strip until July 22; Egypt temporarily closes Rafah crossing July 17 due to technical malfunction

18 juill. 02h51 UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 16/7/2018, 12h00 until 22/7/2018, 11h59 (Asia/Jerusalem). COUNTRY/REGION West Bank, Rafah
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Event

Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing on the southern Gaza border on Tuesday, July 17, until further notice, while also suspending shipments of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip until Sunday, July 22. The decision, made by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, comes after Palestinians launched a rocket into southern Israel on Monday, July 16, in violation of an Egypt-brokered ceasefire agreement reached between Israeli officials and the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups. Food and medicine will, however, continue to be allowed to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. The move also comes days after Israel announced the temporary stoppage of imports and exports through the crossing except for basic humanitarian supplies. Additionally, Israeli authorities will reportedly narrow the fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip from 11 kilometers (6 nautical miles) off the shore to 5.6 kilometers (3 nautical miles).

Additionally, Egyptian authorities announced on Tuesday that the Rafah crossing into Gaza would be temporarily closed due to a technical malfunction. It is unclear when the crossing will reopen. Heightened tensions are likely in the Gaza Strip in the coming days. Additional clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters are possible over the Israel-Gaza border in the near-term.

Context

On July 14, intense cross-border fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters left at least two Palestinians dead and 14 others wounded, in addition to wounding four Israelis. The series of airstrikes launched by Israel on July 14, targeting suspected Hamas personnel and installations, was reportedly the largest such Israeli salvo since the 2014 Gaza war. Palestinian fighters also fired almost 200 projectiles at Israel from Gaza on July 14.

A spike in tensions and protests has been observed in the Palestinian Territories in the wake of US President Donald Trump's December 2017 announcement that the US would officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital - a departure from the previous US and international position of neutrality on the status of the city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians - and would move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The new embassy was officially opened on May 14.

Advice

Individuals present in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are advised to avoid all protests or other public gatherings due to the high risk of violence and to monitor developments to the situation. Due to the underlying terrorist threat, travelers in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are advised to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities. 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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