RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Erez crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel will be closed by Israeli authorities on Thursday until the completion of the Jewish holiday of Purim on Sunday, according to Palestinian sources.
Head of the media department of the Palestinian committee of civil affairs Muhammad al-Maqadma told Ma’an that Israeli authorities had informed the committee that the Erez crossing would be closed in preparations for the holiday, with the exception of urgent humanitarian cases.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that all crossings between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, including Gaza and the occupied West Bank, would be closed between midnight on Friday and midnight on Sunday.
Erez is the only land crossing between Gaza and Israel, although travel is heavily restricted by Israeli authorities as part of a crippling blockade on the coastal enclave in place since 2007.
While Palestinian business owners are occasionally allowed to enter Israel from Gaza, despite facing routine detentions at the border, most Palestinians from the blockaded territory are only permitted to enter Israel if they are in a serious humanitarian situation.
Meanwhile, Israel often implements massive closures on the Palestinian territory during Jewish holidays. Last year during Purim, Israel shut down all checkpoints between the occupied West Bank and Israel and occupied Jerusalem, and all checkpoint crossings with the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians were also restricted access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, in East Jerusalem with all Palestinian men younger than 50 denied entry to the site.
Restrictions at the mosque compound during a succession of Jewish holidays in September 2015 played a major role in triggering a wave of unrest that has since left some 250 Palestinians and 35 Israelis killed.
Residents of Gaza suffer from high unemployment and poverty rates, as well as the consequences of three devastating wars with Israel since 2008, most recently in the summer of 2014.
The UN has said that the besieged Palestinian territory could become “uninhabitable” by 2020, as its 1.8 million residents remain in dire poverty due to the Israeli blockade that has crippled the economy, while continuing to experience slow-paced reconstruction efforts aimed at rebuilding homes for some 75,000 Palestinians who remain displaced since 2014.
(Source / 09.03.2017)