Israel partially reopens main Gaza crossing after easing of fire balloons


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel partially reopened its main crossing with Gaza after closing the junction in response to repeated arson attacks from incendiary kites and balloons coming from the coastal strip.

Israel had closed the Kerem Shalom crossing on July 9 to everything but food, medical supplies and fuel. Last week Israel also stopped allowing fuel.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement Tuesday that Kerem Shalom, the only border crossing with Gaza for commercial goods and the main crossing for humanitarian aid, would not completely reopen until the complete halt of incendiary balloons sent from Gaza to southern Israel and the stop of clashes on the border.

Palestinian protesters and rioters have been gathering at the border with Israel since mid-March as part of the so-called March of Return. The use of incendiary objects as a tactic began with the border protests. Thousands of acres of farming land and natural forest have been consumed in the flames sparked by the flying firebombs.

On Monday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video on Facebook calling on parents around the world to tell others about the incendiary balloon launched from Gaza that landed in the playground of an Israeli preschool while the children were playing there last week.

The “beautiful children were nearly burned alive,” Netanyahu says in the video, which he called “a message to every mother and to every father.”

A teacher led the children out of the playground and to safety.

Recommended from JTA