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Israel closes lone pedestrian crossing with Gaza after protests

By
Daniel Uria
Israel closed the only pedestrian crossing with the Gaza Strip Sunday in response to violent protests along the border fence Friday, an Israeli Defense Ministry spokeswoman. File photo by Mohammed Saber/EPA
Israel closed the only pedestrian crossing with the Gaza Strip Sunday in response to "violent protests" along the border fence Friday, an Israeli Defense Ministry spokeswoman. File photo by Mohammed Saber/EPA

Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Israel closed its sole pedestrian crossing with the Gaza Strip Sunday in response to protests along the border.

An Israeli Defense Ministry spokeswoman said the Erez Crossing was closed to all pedestrian activity in response to "violent protests" along the border fence Friday, but would remain open to humanitarian cases, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Gaza's Ministry of Health said two people were killed in the protests on Friday as thousands gathered at the border with some throwing firebombs and improvised explosive devices and Israeli military forces responded with riot-dispersal measures and live fire.

Erez is one of three land crossings providing access to Gaza, two of which are under Israeli control, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The United Nations said 12,500 people left Gaza for Israel through the Erez crossing in July and 64,000 people have left using Erez this year.

Activity at the crossing was expected to increase due to the Muslim religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The closure also comes as the United Nations and Egypt have been working to mediate a long-term cease-fire between Israel and Gaza ruler Hamas.

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Israel reopened the only commercial crossing between Israel and Gaza at Kerem Shalom in the midst of the negotiations after banning commercial goods, fuel and gas from entering Gaza.

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