Israel further tightens Gaza blockade over arson kites


Critics of the law, which passed with 43 votes in favor and 24 against in the 120-seat Knesset, said it was a blow to core democratic values like free speech and part of the Israeli government's effort to delegitimize rights groups and NGOs.

Meanwhile, on Monday evening, Israel announced it would again close the Kerem Shalom crossing, the only crossing for commercial goods and the main crossing for humanitarian aid between Israel and Gaza, after a rocket was sacked into southern Israel earlier in the day despite a cease fire declared by Hamas late Saturday night.

Israel says some 2,500 acres of nature reserves and parks close to Gaza have been burnt thus far and it is reported to have delivered messages to Hamas that if the fires continue, it risks sparking a full-fledged war, like the three they have waged over the past decade.

Israel's parliament passed a law on Tuesday that could see groups critical of government policies toward the Palestinians banned from entering Israeli schools and speaking with pupils. There was no immediate comment from officials in Cairo.

Israel is seeking to increase pressure on Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules Gaza, following a series of incendiary balloons and kites that have sparked damaging fires on Israeli farms after being sent over the border.

But she said the law could also be applied to right-wing groups, such as those that advocate violence against Israeli soldiers over any evacuation of Jewish settlements in territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. The Iron Dome shot down more than 20 projectiles over the weekend.

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The tightened restrictions follow months of clashes and Hamas-staged protests along the Israel-Gaza border.

"Closing Gaza's major crossing for movement of goods, the main lifeline for nearly two million people, half of whom are children, constitutes an illegal and immoral act of collective punishment", they said.

"The Israeli occupation would be playing with fire if its warplanes targeted kite flyers", he said.

Israel held an emergency cabinet session Sunday after terrorists launched an estimated 200 missiles at Israeli communities on the border. It appeared to be the first case of Gaza militants using birds to attack Israel and authorities said they were considering filing a complaint - under the appropriate worldwide treaties - about the use of animals for militant activities.

Hamas denies this and its spokesman Fawzi Barhoum blamed Israel on Saturday for the escalation. In response, the IDF struck dozens of Hamas targets in the Strip. Over 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began on March 30.

People carry the body of a Palestinian who was killed in an Israeli air strike, at central Gaza City, 14 July 2018.