The Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip said on Saturday that they may close down the Kerem Shalom crossing from the Gazan side, in protest of Israel’s decision this week to permanently shut down Karni, which is the main commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel.The Karni crossing is a major crossing point, with facilities for trucks transporting goods in and out of the Gaza Strip. With its closure, crossings will have to take place in the far southern tip of the Gaza Strip, in the much smaller and less equipped Kerem Shalom crossing.
Jihad Salim, the Secretary-General of the Private Transport Association of the Gaza Strip, told reporters from the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency on Saturday that the Kerem Shalom crossing “is only barren land without any facilities like rest rooms, water or electricity”
“Closing the Karni crossing will add more suffering and freight will go up. The Salah Addin Street can’t cope with the large number of trucks carrying the cargo from the southern Gaza Strip to the north. The roads are not well paved, and the street already sees too many road accidents because the traffic is always congested.”
The Palestinian Authority in Gaza gave the Israeli government 48 hours to respond to its request that Karni crossing be re-opened before it would close down Kerem Shalom in protest.
The closure of Karni crossing comes as the Israeli government has faced increasing pressure from the international community to lift its nearly 4-year old siege on the Gaza Strip. The siege has prevented the Palestinian population of Gaza, 1.5 million people, from having access to basic foodstuffs, medical supplies and building materials.
Recently, Israeli authorities have allowed a small trickle of goods to enter the Gaza Strip, but the Palestinian Authority in Gaza has documented that the amount being allowed in is less than one tenth of the population’s basic needs.