The United Nations on Tuesday criticised Israel’s clousure of its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip, warning that the measure could have severe negative consequences.
Spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq said that “The United Nations is very concerned about the restrictions imposed on the crossing and the temporary suspension of import and export.”
The UN warned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision could escalate the conflict with Gaza.
On Tuesday, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov,spoke in response to Israel’s decision and said that “everyone must step back from the trajectory of confrontation and escalation.”
Netanyahu’s decision to impose such severe economic sanctions on the besieged Gaza Strip comes about four months after the launch of incendiary kites and explosive balloons from the strip into southern Israel, which has scorched thousands of acres of land along the borders.
An Israeli army spokesperson said in a statement that in light of these “attacks” of incendiary kites fired from Gaza towards Israel, the decision was made to close the Kerem Shalom crossing with the exception of basic humanitarian aid, particularly food and medicine.
The spokesperson added that Netanyahu implemented these restrictions “to put pressure on the Hamas movement in Gaza.”
There are three crossings into the Gaza Strip; two are controlled by Israel and one by Egypt. The Gaza-Israel crossings are the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, that is specifically for pedestrians, and Kerem Shalom in the southern Gaza Strip for the entry of goods and fuel. The Gaza-Egypt crossing is the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, but is often closed and lacks infrastructure for it to be a main commercial crossing.