Israel closes Gaza crossings in response to rocket attacks
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Israel has sealed its borders with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip after a surge in cross-border attacks this week. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's bureau, the move is raising fears of a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished territory.
Israel has closed all border crossings into Gaza, in response to an escalation in Palestinian rocket attacks. The militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, has fired more than 100 rockets at Israel since Tuesday, when Israeli forces killed 19 Palestinians, most of them Hamas gunmen.
The rocket attacks have terrorized the Israeli town ofand farming communities on the Gaza border. Israeli spokesman Arieh Mekel says that under these circumstances, it cannot be business as usual with Gaza.
"We are determined to continue and do whatever it takes until these daily attacks against our citizens will stop," he said.
The closure is a further blow to besieged Gaza, which is already facing shortages of food, raw materials, fuel and electricity. Israel has tightened sanctions since June, when Hamas seized control of Gaza and defeated theforces of Western-backed Palestinian President .
Dr. Mona al-Farra of thein Gaza says the situation is going from bad to worse.
"I am warning of a large humanitarian crisis in Gaza for [the] Palestinian people, for women [and] children," she said.
Israel hopes that the sanctions, along with military pressure, will prompt Palestinians in Gaza to pressure Hamas to halt the rocket attacks. But Hamas and other militant groups are defiant. They say Israeli "collective punishment" will not stop the rockets.
The government of President Abbas in thealso condemned the border closures. Palestinian officials warned that Israel is harming new peace talks, which resumed last month after a seven-year break.
- "Israel Closes Gaza Crossings in Response to Rocket Attacks" — , January 18, 2008
- Steven Erlanger. "Israel Closes All Gaza Border Crossings" — , January 18, 2008