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Israel closes Erez crossing in response to Gaza marches

Aug. 19, 2018 11:15 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 22, 2018 1:24 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities announced on Sunday the closure of the Erez crossing (Beit Hanoun) between Israel and the northern besieged Gaza Strip, under the pretext of the on-going marches along the eastern border of Gaza.

Israeli authorities announced the closure of the Erez crossing (Beit Hanoun), excluding emergency medical cases, which need immediate treatment outside of the Gaza Strip, from the closure.

The office of the Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, issued a statement saying that Lieberman ordered the close of the Erez crossing (Beit Hanoun), in response to the continuing of “The Great March of Return” protests, during which 171 Palestinians have been killed and over 18,000 injured by Israeli forces.

Muhammad Maqadmeh, media official of the Palestinian Civil Affairs Commission, said “Israeli authorities informed the commission regarding the closure of Beit Hanoun crossing since Sunday morning and that it will be closed for those traveling outside of Gaza, while for Palestinians returning to Gaza, it will remain open.”

Maqadmeh explained the reason reported by Israeli authorities for the unexpected closure was “The naval march being organized by the Palestinians on Saturday near the northern border of Gaza and the continuing of the return marches along the eastern border.”

Maqadmeh confirmed that the crossing will be closed to the movement of Palestinians traveling outside of Gaza until further notice.

The Erez crossing (Beit Hanoun) is the only operating crossing used for the movement of people between Israel and the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank. The crossing is under full Israeli control.

The Erez crossing is currently used by patients seeking treatment in Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank.

Diplomats, foreign missions, journalists, laborers, and Palestinian merchants, and holders of entry permits into Israel all pass through this crossing, considering that particularly Palestinians experience long waiting periods to obtain a permit.

Although the crossing was designed to deal with the passage of about 20,000 individuals per day, it was reported that there are no more than 20 to 30 individuals crossing per day, most of whom are foreign passport holders.

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