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The New Arab

Israel reopens Gaza crossings after pre-Ramadan violence

Gaza has been under siege since 2007 [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 12 May, 2019

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Israel has reopened its crossings with the besieged Gaza Strip after a restoration of calm that followed a pre-Ramadan flare up of violence.

Israel reopened Sunday its crossings with the blockaded Gaza Strip after closing them during a deadly escalation earlier this month which killed 25 Palestinians over two days, an official said.

Both the Erez crossing for people and Kerem Shalom crossing for goods were open and operating, a spokeswoman for COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry unit that oversees the crossings, said in a statement.

Both had been closed on May 4, when Gaza rulers Hamas and Islamic Jihad exchanged rockets with Israel, in a deadly flare up in violence that killed four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians, including a baby.

The two-day flare-up ended on Monday in a tentative truce.

Palestinian officials said Israel had agreed to ease its crippling decade-long blockade of the impoverished enclave in exchange for calm.

Israel did not publicly confirm the deal, but on Friday lifted the ban it had imposed on Palestinian fishing boats operating off Gaza.

'Uninhabitable Gaza'

Israel strictly controls both crossings and has enforced a siege on Gaza since 2007, shortly after Hamas took control of the coastal strip.

UN officials and rights activists have repeatedly called for Israel to lift the blockade against Gaza, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

The coastal enclave suffers from a severe lack of electricity and relies on fuel-powered generators during outages that last hours at a time.

Israel insists its blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008, scarring the besieged enclave.

Critics say it amounts to collective punishment of the coastal enclave's two million residents. The UN says Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020, but human rights organisations say Gaza has reached inhabitability now.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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