After an outbreak of border violence, Israel closes the main crossing with Gaza and one Palestinian loses their life.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Israeli military killed a 25-year-old Palestinian along the volatile border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said, as youths mounted violent protests at the border fence.
Israel has prevented thousands of Palestinian laborers from entering due to increased tensions caused by unrest in the past week.
During the protest on Tuesday, Gaza’s Health Ministry reported that a man lost his life due to Israeli gunfire. Additionally, nine individuals sustained injuries, with one being in critical condition.
The Israeli armed forces did not provide an immediate response.
The string of protests – disrupting weeks of calm at the separation fence – comes during a sensitive holiday season in Israel that began with the Jewish new year last week and continues through the Sukkot festival next week.
During Sukkot, large numbers of Jews are expected to visit Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The compound, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is often a focal point for violence.
In the last week, numerous Palestinians have approached the fence that divides Israel and Gaza, engaging in acts such as setting tires on fire and throwing explosive devices at Israeli soldiers. This area has been subjected to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007, with the aim of preventing the Hamas militant group from obtaining weapons.
Hamas claims that the protests have been orchestrated by young individuals in reaction to Israeli actions that have caused tension. The group specifically mentions a rise in visits made by nationalist Jewish activists to the disputed holy site in Jerusalem. Hazem Qasem, a spokesperson for Hamas, stated that as long as these provocative actions persist, the protests will also persist.
Under longstanding arrangements, Jews are allowed to visit but not pray at the holy site. The large numbers of visits, along with scenes of some visitors quietly praying, have raised Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to divide or even take over the site.
The week’s events recall a bloody protest campaign organized by Hamas in 2018 and 2019 during which over 350 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Those protests halted after mediators, including Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, brokered an unofficial deal in which Israel eased some economic restrictions on Gaza and allowed Qatar to deliver tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments for needy Gaza families and Hamas salaries.
However, after the Qatari envoy’s visit to Gaza, the finance ministry of the territory declared that it would need to significantly reduce the salaries of numerous civil servants by nearly 50%. The Qatari government press office has not yet provided a response to the comment request.
Ghazi Hamad, a member of the political council of the group in Gaza, acknowledged that there were “problems” between Hamas and Qatar when questioned about the decrease in Qatari funds. However, he did not provide further details. He emphasized that these issues were “simple and solvable.” Hamad refrained from commenting on whether Hamas was utilizing the border protests as a means to pressure Israel and Qatar for concessions.
Israel has shut down the Erez crossing, which is the only way for around 18,000 Palestinians from Gaza to enter Israel on foot. These individuals are employed in Israel, where jobs are highly sought after and pay significantly more compared to similar positions in Gaza. The unemployment rate in Gaza has remained around 50%.
In order to maintain peace in Gaza, Israel has started issuing work permits. However, Israeli authorities state that these permits are dependent on the security situation remaining calm. Recently, Israel temporarily shut down Gaza’s primary cargo crossing due to the discovery of explosives in a shipment of clothing.
Sami al-Amsi, the leader of the primary labor union in Gaza, considers the recent closure as a severe blow to the economy, which negatively impacts Palestinians. He views it as a form of collective punishment.
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