Israel has reopened its border crossing into the Gaza Strip, permitting food and other goods to be taken into the area.
The crossing was closed July 9 in answer to rising violence between Israeli forces and the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Heavy fighting had been reported between the two sides over the past month. Hamas fired a series of rockets into Israel, while Israeli forces carried out many airstrikes in Gaza. The latest fighting ended a week ago.
The reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing came as Egypt increased its efforts to negotiate a lasting cease-fire. It was not clear if the opening of the crossing was part of a larger deal negotiators are trying to reach.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called the reopening “a clear message” to people in the Gaza Strip. He said it demonstrated that “quiet pays and violence doesn’t pay.”
Kerem Shalom is the main commercial crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. It serves as the link for transporting food, fuel, construction materials and aid to the Palestinian territory.
Israel and Egypt placed severe economic restrictions on Gaza after Hamas seized the coastal territory. The militant group took control from the internationally-recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007.
Israel says the economic blockade is needed to contain Hamas, a militant group that seeks Israel’s destruction. The closure has greatly harmed Gaza’s economy. But, it has failed to oust Hamas or ease the group’s hold on power.
Israel halted commercial traffic into the Gaza Strip last month. It stopped fuel shipments about two weeks ago to answer balloons being launched from Gaza to start fires. The fires have destroyed large areas of forest and farmland in southern Israel.
Fuel shortages in Gaza led to widespread power outages that have left 2 million people living there with just a few hours of electricity a day.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the reopening of the crossing. A U.N. spokesman said Guterres was “encouraged to see that those concerned” had answered calls to avoid the harmful effects “of yet another conflict on the civilian population in and around Gaza.”
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters, the Associated Press and VOA News. Mario Ritter was the editor.
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Words in This Story
commercial – adj. related to buying and selling things
encourage – v. tell or advise to do something