Avigdor Lieberman, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu. Picture: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER
Avigdor Lieberman, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu. Picture: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER

Jerusalem — Israel has closed its only crossing for people with the Gaza Strip except for humanitarian cases after weekend border clashes, the latest tightening of its blockade on the Palestinian enclave despite truce efforts.

The move could prevent Gazans from travelling via the crossing for this week’s Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which runs from Monday night until Thursday night, but Israeli officials did not say how long the closure, which took place on Sunday, would last.

Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said the closure was due to "violent incidents on the border last Friday".

The Palestinian Authority civilian affairs office in the Gaza Strip also confirmed the closure except for medical cases and Palestinians seeking to cross back into the enclave.

Border clashes on Friday saw two Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire. Israel’s army said firebombs and improvised explosive devices were hurled at the border fence, while a number of Palestinians briefly crossed into Israeli territory. No Israelis were reported wounded.

The closure and border incidents occurred despite attempts by Egypt and UN officials to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Israel has enforced an air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, but grants permission to a limited number of people to cross for various reasons.

Israel had just last week reopened its only goods crossing with Gaza after closing it to most deliveries for more than a month over border tensions.

Gaza’s only other border is with Egypt, but the Rafah crossing with the enclave had largely been kept closed in recent years. Cairo opened it in mid-May and it has mostly remained so since.

US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton arrived in Israel on Sunday for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said on Friday he believed a durable truce with Israel was near. He said UN and Egyptian talks with various Palestinian factions have "taken a big step forward towards understandings with the occupation … and the possibility of restoring calm".

AFP

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