Israel’s Ultimatum to Hamas: Erez Crossing Reopens Only if Border Protests Cease
Amidst the increasing tension on the Gaza border, Israel has communicated a stern message to Hamas via United Nations envoy, Tor Wennesland. Israel has stated that it will reopen the Erez Crossing only when the violent protests near the border and the launching of incendiary balloons cease. This stand has tied the economic and civil evolution in Gaza to the stability of Israel’s security. However, there are currently no plans to enhance the situation in Gaza from Israel’s end, which Gaza perceives as an Israeli interest.
Economic Pressure on Gaza
The Erez Crossing, a significant economic lifeline for Gaza, was shut down last week following border riots. This closure has exerted substantial economic strain on Gaza. On an everyday basis, the shutdown bars access to their jobs in Israel for 18,500 Gazan workers, causing Gaza to suffer an economic loss of over $2.6 million per day. This amount is almost equivalent to the monthly Qatari grant to Gaza, which is now under threat due to the escalating tension between Hamas and Qatar.
Hamas has proposed an increase in the laborer quota by 1,500, allowing 20,000 Gazan laborers to enter Israel each day. Israel has not agreed to this proposition, but officials have stated that it would be considered if peace is maintained at the border. The protests, supported by Hamas, aim to secure more economic aid by capitalizing on perceived Israeli vulnerability.
Impact on the Gaza Fish Industry
The closure of the crossing has severely affected the Gaza fish industry, which heavily relies on the crossing for exports. Approximately 40 tons of fish are transported through the crossing every month, and the closure has left around 200 workers unemployed. The Gaza Ministry of Agriculture estimates that the agriculture and fish industries collectively lose around $260,000 per day due to the closure.
Security Concerns and Reactions
There have been instances of incendiary balloons being launched towards Israel, leading to increased security concerns. Additionally, violent riots erupted along the fence on Monday night. In response to these threats, the Israel Defense Forces retaliated by attacking a Hamas military position, neutralizing the threat posed by a terrorist who fired at their forces.
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