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Collective punishment of Gazans continues: family visits cancelled

Today, the military cancelled family visits to residents of Gaza imprisoned in Israel. Usually, relatives of these residents are allowed to visit them only once every two or three months.

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

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 inflicting such harm on all residents of the Gaza Strip who are not involved in the hostilities.

Closing the crossings had a severe impact on electricity supply in the Gaza Strip over the weekend. Israel delayed the transfer of diesel fuel for operating Gaza’s power plant, which has operated only partially since the tunnels on the Egyptian border were closed, for two days. Consequently, the power cuts in the Gaza Strip were extended from 8 to 12 in 24 hours. On 16 March 2014, Kerem Shalom Crossing was reopened and 450,000 liters of diesel fuel were transferred into Gaza, as well as petrol and cooking gas. The fuel was purchased by the power plant with the aid of a Qatar government donation.

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