UN warns of 'precarious situation' in Gaza after tightened blockade

Published 19.07.2018 00:00

In response to an Israeli move to tighten the blockade on Gaza, the United Nations warned of a dramatic deterioration in humanitarian conditions in the occupied territories. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Jamie McGoldrick, visited the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, while calling for urgent action to stop the ongoing humanitarian crisis. "The situation in Gaza is extremely precarious. I am deeply concerned about the imposition of further restrictions at Kerem Shalom, which is the lifeline for Gaza's population," the U.N. envoy said, as reported by an Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post. "Should they continue, these additional restrictions risk triggering a dramatic deterioration in an already fragile situation and desperate humanitarian conditions, particularly for the health sector," McGoldrick warned.

Days after the heaviest assault on the Palestinian territories, Israel suspended fuel and gas transfers to the Gaza Strip by closing the only commercial crossing until Sunday.

In a latest move, Israel has threatened a new offensive in the coastal enclave if the launch of incendiary kites and balloons are not halted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said that Israel was prepared for "any scenario" in the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to an official statement.

"We are in the midst of a battle that involves an exchange of blows, and I can tell you that the [Israeli] army is ready for any scenario," Netanyahu reportedly said during a military inspection with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Asked whether ongoing tension along the Gaza-Israel border fence might be resolved non-militarily, he added: "I believe we are taking the right steps."

A group of Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip who have been flying incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory say they will continue their activities, despite Israeli threats until the 11-year blockade of Gaza is lifted.

"Since morning, our units have been steering flaming kites and balloons over Israeli-occupied territory to show that we don't take orders from anyone," the Sons of al-Zawari, a self-proclaimed "brigade" of Palestinian kite flyers, said in a statement released yesterday, according to the Anadolu Agency (AA). "We will continue our peaceful resistance until our demands are met and the siege is lifted," the group added. It went on to deny Israeli media reports that resistance movement Hamas, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, had vowed to curtail the group's activities. "These reports are completely false," the group said. "The Palestinian factions will not stop us from waging peaceful resistance."

In recent weeks, Palestinian activists in Gaza have been flying flaming kites and balloons over Israeli territory as part of ongoing popular rallies along the Gaza-Israel security fence. According to Israeli officials, the improvised aerial weapons have caused numerous fires inside Israel, causing considerable material damage, in some cases, but no deaths or injuries.

Since the rallies along the security fence first kicked off on March 30, more than 130 Palestinian protesters have been killed and thousands more injured by Israeli army gunfire. Protesters demand the "right of return" to their homes and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel. They also demand an end to Israel's 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of basic commodities.

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