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6 May, 2024 00:22

Israel shuts down Gaza border crossing after Hamas attack

The move comes in response to a rocket barrage that killed three IDF soldiers
Israel shuts down Gaza border crossing after Hamas attack

Israel has closed the main border crossing used to deliver humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza in response to a Hamas rocket attack on its troops. 

According to the Israeli army, the Palestinian militants fired more than ten rockets at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stationed near the Kerem Shalom crossing on Sunday, killing three soldiers and wounding 11. The route was first reopened in December due to pressure from the UN and Israel’s primary ally, the US.

The IDF said the barrage came from an area close to a civilian shelter near the Rafah crossing with Egypt. The attack was “another clear example” of Hamas using humanitarian sites and civilians as human shields, the Israeli army said. 

The attack coincided with negotiations between Israel and Hamas in Cairo, which ended without a breakthrough. NBC News reported that CIA Director William Burns, who was mediating the talks in the Egyptian capital, will travel to Israel this week to hold further discussions.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has reiterated that the IDF will conduct “a power operation in the very near future in Rafah and other places across all of Gaza.” Israeli officials are insisting that the army must eliminate Hamas fighters operating out of Rafah, despite the city being overcrowded with refugees from the parts of Gaza that were previously subject to the IDF’s evacuation notices. 

“It could be a slaughter of civilians and an incredible blow to the humanitarian operation in the entire strip because it is run primarily out of Rafah,” Jens Laerke, the spokesman for the UN humanitarian office (OCHA), warned earlier this week.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as a result of the Israel-Hamas war, which will enter its seventh month on Tuesday. The fighting broke out on October 7 when the Palestinian militant group carried out a surprise raid into Israeli territory, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages.