The decision follows an assessment of the security situation.
By Erin Viner
According to a statement from the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Spokesperson’s Office, Palestinian laborers and merchants will again be permitted to enter Israel from Gaza through the Erez Crossing as of today.
The COGAT communiqué stressed stressed that the re-opening of the crossing for passage and other civil measures benefiting the Gaza Strip are conditional on the maintenance of a stable security situation in the area.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced the decision to maintain the closure on the Gaza Strip this past Sunday. Following a security situation assessment at the IDF Southern Command Headquarters, he stressed that while Israel is willing to show civic and economic generosity toward the Palestinians, it will not reward terrorist organizations and instigators which blatantly use the Muslim Month of Ramadan for the purpose of instigating terror.
Minister Gantz’ statements came in the wake of repeated rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza in recent days, for which he reiterated that the territory’s Islamist-Hamas rulers bear responsibility; as well as clashes in Jerusalem between Muslims and security forces.
“The terror organizations and instigators must remember, those who experience economic, social and military instability are the ones who will sustain severe harm from any escalation. Israel has the capacity and it will continue to yield power and the array of capabilities at its disposal, in a manner which it deems appropriate,” he added, while stressing that, “the security forces continue to be deployed and operate in all sectors for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Israel. Ramadan is supposed to be a holiday of prayer of family gatherings. To my regret there are those who hold stones and Molotov cocktails instead of holy scriptures. Israel acts against them and in tandem enables freedom of worship.”
While hosting celebratory Iftar dinner in honor of Ramadan last night with the Ambassadors and diplomatic staff of neighboring countries with which Israel has peace accords, Minister Gantz updated his guests about his intention to open Erez crossing and about confidence-building measures taken over the past year vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
“I have been communicating with the leaders of your countries. Israel values freedom of worship and we will do everything in our capacity to enable it, while an extremist group – the minority – aims to harm it. It is important for us that this message is brought to the leaders of your countries. You are aware of the reality on the ground and it is important to reflect it to the leaders of your countries,” he said according to a statement TV7 received from the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD).
He added that the Abraham Accords and the ties that have developed over the past year have benefited the region tremendously and that the relations between Israel and Egypt and Jordan serve as beacons of stability.
Turning to Iran, Minister Gantz pointed out that, “We all have an interest to maintain regional peace and stability, particularly in the face of Iranian aggression – which is a global and regional threat first and foremost, and only then it is a threat to the State of Israel. Iran sponsors terror around the world, and the possibility of a nuclear Iran threatens us all.”
The event was attended by U.S. Charge D’Affaires Mr. Jonathan Shrier, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, H.E. Abderrahim Bayoud, UAE Ambassador H.E. Mohamed Al Khaja, UAE Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Bahrain Deputy Head of Mission, Mr. Abdulkarim Ebrahim Abdulkarim Alanansari and Counsellor at the Embassy of Egypt, Mr. Walid Talaat Sayed Ahmed Mahdy. It was also attended by MKs Ruth Wasserman Lande and Ofir Akunis, who lead the Knesset Abraham Accords Caucus.
Minister Gantz wished Ambassadors a blessed month with the traditional Arabic greeting, “Ramadan Kareem.”