April 9, 2013. Last night, after rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, the defense ministry decided to close the Kerem Shalom crossing to the passage of goods and to restrict movement through Erez Crossing to medical cases, Israeli citizens and foreigners. The passage of humanitarian cases was also approved but on a case-by-case basis. The Kerem Shalom crossing remained closed today and passage through Erez is still limited.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office announced last night that the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed due to “security concerns”, but did not explain restrictions on Erez Crossing. This is the third time over the past few months that passage is being restricted through the crossings in response to rocket fire into Israel. The fishing zone is also being limited in response to the rocket fire. Gisha recently wrote to the defense minister demanding he avoid collective punishment of the residents of the Gaza Strip. “Because of the severity of the prohibition against deliberately harming civilians, the steps taken by Israel, also aimed against civilians, are entirely unacceptable”, wrote Gisha Director Sari Bashi. “In the last month, there appears to be a new policy toward the Gaza Strip, in which Israel is openly restricting civilian movement to and from Gaza, not because of a concrete security necessity, but rather as a punitive step taken against the civilian population – in direct response to fire by combatants”.