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Rocket fire from Gaza to south Israel does not justify collective punishment of Gaza residents

On Wednesday, 12 March 2014, the IDF Spokesperson announced that, following rocket fire from Gaza aimed at civilian communities in southern Israel, Kerem Shalom Crossing would be closed and activity at Erez Crossing limited to cases that the military defines humanitarian.

The IDF Spokesperson stated that “a decision to open Kerem Shalom Crossing and restore activity at Erez Crossing to full capacity will be made based on evaluations of the situation and on security considerations.” It is Israel’s duty to protect its borders and residents; however, that does not justify such harsh measures against all residents of the Gaza Strip who are not involved in the hostilities.

Closing the crossings will also have a severe effect on electricity supply in the Gaza Strip. Its sole power plant has not operated regularly since the tunnels on the Egyptian border were closed, and Gaza residents have been receiving a very limited electricity supply from Israel and Egypt. Recently, a Qatar government donation to purchase fuel for the power plant reduced the prolonged power shortages in Gaza. Tomorrow, Israel is supposed to transfer to Gaza 500,000 liters of fuel purchased with the donation money. If this does not occur, the power shortages that affect all residents of Gaza will be extended from 8 to at least 12 in 24 hours.

B’Tselem calls upon Israel to refrain from collectively punishing the residents of the Gaza Strip.