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Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza after lull Open in fullscreen

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Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza after lull

The goods and people border was shut for four days [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 October, 2018

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Four days after shuttering the country's goods and people border, Israeli authorities reopened them following efforts to prevent an escalation in violence.
Israel ordered the country's goods and people border crossings with Gaza to be opened on Sunday, just four days after shuttering them following a Palestinian rocket attack that sparked retaliatory airstrikes.

The move followed efforts to prevent an escalation in violence that has raised fears of a new war between Israel and the Palestinian territory's Islamist rulers Hamas.

"The decision comes after a decrease in the violent events in Gaza over the weekend and efforts Hamas made to restrain" demonstrators, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman's office said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Lieberman had ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the Erez crossing for people, after a rocket from the Palestinian territory hit a home in southern Israel, prompting the Jewish state to strike 20 Hamas targets in Gaza.

Another rocket fell in the Mediterranean off Tel Aviv, without causing casualties or damage.

Hamas disavowed the launches and said it was investigating the incident, as alarm over a potential broader conflict rose.

But Israel rejected their denial, saying they were the only groups armed with rockets of that range. 

Israel in any case holds Hamas responsible, as Gaza's de factor rulers, for all fire from the territory regardless of who launches it.

Near daily protests along the Gaza border since March 30 against Israel's crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army.

More than 200 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed in the violence.

On Friday, thousands again gathered for protests in northern Gaza, but demonstrators largely remained at least 100 metres (yards) from the border.

At least 130 Palestinians were injured by live fire in clashes with Israeli soldiers, the Gaza health ministry said.

Hamas officials were seen discouraging protesters from nearing the fence.

"Gaza is imploding. This is not hyperbole. This is not alarmism. It is a reality," Nickolay Mladenov

On October 12 Israel already suspended the delivery of fuel for the Palestinian territory's power plant that had been trucked daily into Gaza under a deal brokered by the United Nations.

A decision on renewed fuel deliveries "has been put off as for the time being and will be examined in a number of days based on events", Lieberman's office said on Sunday.

An Egyptian security delegation that visited Gaza on Thursday had encouraged Hamas leader Ismail Haniya to calm the protests, according to an Egyptian official.

On Friday, UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov also urged all sides "to exercise restraint, to proceed in a peaceful manner, and to avoid escalation".

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and fears of a fourth have spurred efforts by Egypt and the United Nations for a wider deal that would see Israel ease its blockade in exchange for a long-term truce with the Islamists.

Earlier this week, the UN envoy for the Middle East warned that with its economy in a freefall and tensions rising with Israel, Gaza is imploding.

"Gaza is imploding. This is not hyperbole. This is not alarmism. It is a reality," Mladenov told the council.

He cited World Bank figures showing official unemployment at 53 percent, with more than 70 percent of Palestinian youths jobless.

Every second person in Gaza now lives below the poverty line, he said.

We remain on the brink of another potentially devastating conflict, a conflict that nobody claims to want, but a conflict that needs much more than just words to prevent," said Mladenov.

The United Nations has made some headway in joint efforts with Egypt to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but Mladenov warned this could collapse.

"Barring substantial steps to reverse the current course, this precarious sense of calm is doomed to give way under the mounting pressure. It is already beginning to fray," he said.

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