Israeli army blocks Gaza border after rocket fire
The Israeli army blocked two entry points to Gaza, blocking the border with the strip after a rocket fired from the enclave struck Israeli territory, Agence France Presse reported.
“The crossing points for people and goods, Erez and Kerem Shalom, have been closed until further notice except for humanitarian aid,” an army spokeswoman said.
She said that the measure was taken after a rocket fired from Gaza hit the Eshkol area of southern Israel on Friday, without causing any casualties or damage.
It was the first to strike Israeli territory since September 16, and the second since the end of Israel’s devastating 50-day war on Gaza militants.
The border closure is parallel to escalating tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank following clashes related to Jewish right-wing activism calling for increased Jewish worship in the complex housing the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had urged lawmakers to show “responsibility and restraint” towards recent escalating tensions between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Occupied Jerusalem, Reuters news agency reported.
Palestinians fear an Israeli plan to alter the status quo of the al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, as far-right Jewish activists and politicians call for Jewish worship at the site.
Currently, access to the mosque is administered by Jordanian religious authorities but Israeli security forces have barred Palestinians from entry citing security concerns.
Following Benjamin’s statement, Moshe Feiglin, members of Israel’s right-wing Likud party and head of a campaign for Jewish worship, tweeted he would be heading to the al-Aqsa mosque on Sunday.
A fragile status quo has been set in place and if shaken may stir another Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
A sign of rising tensions, an outspoken advocate for Jewish prayer at the holy site was shot and seriously injured by a suspected Palestinian gunman, who was in turn hunted and killed following an exchange of fire with Israeli police.
At a rally for Yehuda Glick, Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, member of far-right Jewish Home party, said he doesn’t accept “anyone threatening us here in the land of Israel, saying the situation is volatile and therefore we mustn’t go up.”
Consequently, the Palestinian’s deaths sparked more clashes prompting the Israeli police to shut down the complex for an entire day, an act Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said was “tantamount to a declaration of war.”
Separately, Netanyahu said Thursday Abbas had incited for violence when he said this month that “the (Jewish) settlers must be barred from entering the compound by any means.”
The Palestinian Intifada of 2000 began when Israeli right-wing then opposition leader visited the site, immediately after U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed.
The complex is home to the golden Dome of the Rock, where Muslims believe Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. Jews revere it as the site of two destroyed Biblical Temples.
While the Israelis see Jerusalem as at their “indivisible and eternal” capital, a claim not recognized internationally, the Palestinians continue to push for East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in the 1967 war, also a move not recognized by the international community.