Terror regime closes Gaza border crossing amid protests


Occupation regime has closed a key border crossing into the besieged Gaza Strip as the Tel Aviv regime intensifies its crackdown on the anti-occupation protests in the Palestinian enclave.

The Israeli military claimed in a statement on Saturday that Kerem Shalom border crossing would remain closed “until the damage caused by” Palestinian protesters were repaired.

It said the terminal, the main passage point for goods entering the Gaza Strip, would “reopen in accordance with a situation assessment.”

The closure of the border crossing came a day after thousands of Palestinians took part in protests along the border between Gaza and the occupied territories. Israeli forces opened fire on the anti-occupation protesters, killing a Palestinian man and wounding 170 others.

Friday’s killings raised to 53 the death toll of unarmed Palestinian protesters who have lost their lives by Israeli forces’ live fire since the protests began along the Gaza border on March 30. The Israeli regime has faced international criticism over its use of live fire.

Palestinian demonstrators gesture toward Israeli forces during clashes along the border with the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Yunis, May 11, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The Palestinian rallies, known as the “Great March of Return,” will last until May 15, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), when Israel was created.

Every year on May 15, Palestinians all over the world hold demonstrations to commemorate the day, which marks the anniversary of the forcible eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland by Israelis in 1948.

According to witnesses, Israeli troops used a drone to down flaming kites that demonstrators flew over the border in a bid to torch bushes and distract snipers.

During the Friday protests, senior leader of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas Ismail Haniyeh said Palestinians on Monday and Tuesday, when the mass protests are due to climax, would stand “as one man to tell the American president and Israel that al-Quds is Arab, Islamic, no one will change its identity.”

Yahya Sinwar, the political chief of  Hamas, said on Thursday that he hoped to see hundreds of thousands of Palestinians storm the fence between Gaza and the occupied territories during protests next week that will coincide with the US embassy move to Jerusalem al-Quds.

Last December, US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s so-called capital and relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, breaking with decades of American policy.

His decision infuriated the Palestinians, who declared that Washington could no longer play a role as a mediator in the so-called Middle East peace process. It also sparked outrage across the Muslim world and even among Washington’s Arab allies.

On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital.”

Separately, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip held a funeral procession for a Palestinian man killed by Israeli forces during the rallies Friday.

Jabr Salem Abu Mustafa succumbed to his wounds inflicted by Israeli troops during a protest rally east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

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