Israel closes border crossings with Gaza following rocket launch


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel closed its two border crossings with Gaza in the wake of a rocket fired into Israel from the coastal strip.

In Gaza, Hamas called the decision to seal the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings indefinitely beginning Saturday “collective punishment.” The Israeli government in a statement cited humanitarian issues as an exception.

“The justifications given by the [Israeli] occupation to shut down crossings are unacceptable,” senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk  said in a statement released Sunday, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

Marzoukcharged that the closure violates the Aug. 26 cease-fire ending Israel’s 50-day military operation in Gaza as well as international agreements.

The rocket that landed Friday evening in southern Israel caused no damage or injuries, the Israel Defense Forces reported. It was the second time since the cease-fire took effect that a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israel. Israel did not return fire.

“Today’s restrictions on movement raise the specter of a return to Israel openly closing crossings in response to rocket fire, punishing civilians in Gaza in pursuit of so-called political or security goals,” Eitan Diamond, director of the Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, said in a statement. “This is a dangerous regression to a policy that is not only illegal under international law but also has been discredited by senior Israeli security officials as counter to Israeli interests.”

The Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza also has been closed for the last week following attacks on Egyptian security forces patrolling the Sinai. A meeting in Cairo to continue indirect cease-fire negotiations was postponed last week by Egypt due to the Sinai unrest.

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