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Israel Lightens Restrictions on Gaza to Emphasize ‘Calm Is Better than Violence’

August 15, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Illustrative example of goods shipped to Gaza. Photo courtesy of the Israel Tax Authority.

With multiple days of general quiet on the Gaza border, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced on Facebook on Wednesday the re-opening of the Israel-Gaza border crossing back to its normal function “as a clear message for Gaza population: calm is better than violence.” Lieberman’s statement, posted in Arabic and translated into English on the Facebook page of Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) authority that works with the Palestinians on the ground, said that Gazans would “win” when Israelis have calm and “lose when #chaos prevails.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed in a series of posts on Wednesday that the Kerem Shalom border crossing would “be re-opened this morning for full activity” and that the fishing zone of Gaza’s coast would be expanded out to nine nautical miles.

The relaxing of restrictions comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing in July in an effort to curb Hamas terrorism with economic sanctions. For months, Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip have been launching attacks at Israel in the form of rockets, fire kites, and attempts to breach the border crossing to invade Israel. In recent weeks, there have been multiple upticks in rocket violence, prior to the latest period of calm.

On Wednesday, Lieberman said pointed to that quiet and said in his post, “#Gazans must understand that the state of Israel is not a problem but is the solution, the problem is that leadership of #Hamas uses citizens as living ammunition and human shields.”

He also painted a bright future for Gaza, saying they could potentially become the “Singapore” of the Middle East. “That would be good for the people of Gaza and for Israel and for the entire region,” said the Israeli Defense Minister.

However, Lieberman made it clear that if Hamas resorts to more violence, Israel would respond “immediately” and “forcefully.”

That parallels what Netanyahu said last Sunday in comments released by his office. “We are in the midst of a campaign against terror in Gaza. It entails an exchange of blows; it will not end in one strike. Our demand is clear—a complete ceasefire. We will not suffice with less than this,” said Netanyahu.

“As of now, we have destroyed hundreds of Hamas military targets, and in each round the IDF exacts an additional heavy price… Our objective is to restore the quiet to residents of the south and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip; this goal will be achieved in full.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, August 15, 2018)

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