Israeli authorities on Thursday reopened the country’s sole pedestrian crossing with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which had been closed for two weeks amid ongoing violence along the border.
The Israeli Defense Ministry body that oversees the coordination of civil affairs in Palestinian-controlled territories said that the decision was made “in accordance with security assessments and with [a view to] the preservation of stable security.”
Some 17,000 Gazans have permits to enter Israel through the Erez Crossing for work.
Gazans have staged violent riots along the border on a near-daily basis throughout the month, targeting Israeli forces with explosive devices and gunfire, renewing the launch of incendiary balloons into Israeli territory and setting fire to tires in the Strip.
On Tuesday evening, several Palestinians managed to breach the border fence and set alight a nearby Israel Defense Forces position.
In response, an IDF drone struck Hamas terror outposts in Gaza for the third time this week.
The riots and terror balloons are believed to be a form of Hamas pressure on Israel and Qatar. Zenger News previously reported that Doha notified Hamas in mid-September it did not intend to renew its monthly aid package of $30 million.
On Wednesday night, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that Jerusalem was ready for a possible conflict.
“We don’t want an escalation and are not seeking a fight, but if we arrive at a point where we need to act, ‘Operation Shield and Arrow’ should be a reminder to all [Gaza-based] terror groups about the capabilities of [Israel’s] security apparatus,” said Gallant said at a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war.
He was referring to the IDF’s five-day campaign in May in which the military assassinated several top Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders in Gaza. During the fighting, PIJ launched more than 1,250 rockets at Israel, to which the IDF responded by striking nearly 400 terror assets in the Strip.
“If Israeli civilians or soldiers are harmed, we will not hesitate to use all of our power to ensure the safety of citizens and return quiet to the border,” said Gallant.
International mediators have stepped up diplomatic efforts to prevent a new round of confrontation.
“The United Nations is talking to and working with all concerned to improve the lives of people in Gaza, particularly the most vulnerable,” U.N. Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said on Wednesday.
“The situation inside the Strip is dire and we must avoid another conflict that will have grave consequences for all,” he added.
Wennesland has come under fire in the past for equating Palestinian terrorism with Israeli defensive actions. He was also criticized last August for dispatching a U.N. team to visit a jailed PIJ leader prior to the outbreak of another conflict with terrorist group named “Operation Breaking Dawn.”
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager