Gaza Border Residents Again Close Road to Kerem Shalom Crossing

Trucks loaded with food supplies at a Gaza crossing. (Abed Rahim Khatib /Flash90)

Residents of Gaza border communities on Sunday again blocked roads to the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, holding up dozens of trucks and preventing them from delivering goods to the crossing. The protest is a continuation of actions taken in recent days by residents demanding better security.

As Gaza Arabs have made life difficult for Israelis living in the border fence area, residents intend to do what they can to make things difficult for Gazans, Itzik Gutman, one of the protesters, told Walla News. “We are doing this not because we want to be mean, but in order to emphasize to the other side that we have families who want to live in peace. Many of our businesses have suffered, as have our families and children. We want answers, and solutions. We want an arrangement that will allow us to live in peace.”

Last Thursday, thousands of students who were part of a march demanding quiet in the Gaza border area arrived at the Knesset. The group had started out last Sunday from schools in the Gaza border area with several dozen youths, who were joined by teens as they walked towards Yerushalayim. The group consisted of about 2,000 teens, as well as families of IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, organizers said.

In a message released Saturday night, the group of teens said that “our demands are to have a normal childhood, We want to concentrate on our studies, on friends and activities, and not have to worry about our younger siblings cringing in bomb shelters. We want to have the same childhood experiences as do children in Petach Tikvah, Merom Golan, Or Akiva or Eilat. We demand change, practical solutions, and a better future.”

Sunday’s protest comes after a weekend in which violence once again flared up in the border area. Israeli forces on Friday evening caught a Gaza Arab who had snuck over the border and reached Netiv Ha’asara, a moshav near the border fence. The terrorist hid in one of the hothouses on the moshav and set it on fire. He was later arrested.

On Motzoei Shabbos, Channel 20 reported that this was the seventh time the same terrorist attempted to enter Israel by breaking through the border fence. In each instance – including the one Friday night – he was questioned and released back to Gaza. The report quoted a senior IDF official as saying that “there is no doubt that we have a problem. I can only imagine what would have happened had this terrorist been armed with a hand grenade.”

Despite reports of an arrangement between Israel and Hamas that would lead to quiet on the border fence in exchange for an easing of the Israeli sanctions against Gaza, some 12,000 Arabs rioted at the fence on Friday, throwing rocks and grenades at Israeli forces. Two other terrorists who attempted to breach the border fence were arrested. One terrorist was killed in the rioting, and 37 were injured.

Last week, the London-based Al Hayat newspaper said that Egypt had convinced Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to accept the conditions of a “calming agreement” between Israel and Hamas, brokered by Egypt. Officially termed a pre-ceasefire agreement, the deal entails Hamas halting its campaign of rioting at the Gaza border fence and its dispatching of terror balloons and kites into Israel, in exchange for a partial easing of the Israeli security restrictions on Gaza. If the agreement holds, it could be formalized as a ceasefire, and move on to more advanced stages, such as Israel receiving its missing soldiers and civilians who are held by Hamas in exchange for the release of Hamas terrorists from Israeli prisons.