Nickolay Mladenov
Nickolay MladenovReuters

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, on Tuesday expressed concerns over Israel’s decision to close the Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza.

"I am concerned by the consequences of Israel's decision to temporarily suspend imports and exports with the exception of basic humanitarian supplies through the Kerem Shalom crossing,” he said in a statement.

“Humanitarian assistance is no substitute for commerce and trade. I urge the authorities to reverse this decision,” continued Mladenov.

At the same time, he also said “Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza should also do their part by maintaining calm, stopping incendiary kites and preventing other provocations.”

“The United Nations is continuing its engagement with Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, as well as regional and international partners, to reduce tensions, support intra-Palestinian reconciliation and resolve all humanitarian challenges. This latest development must not divert us from this urgent course of action. Everyone must step back from the trajectory of confrontation and escalation," concluded the UN envoy.

On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced the Kerem Shalom crossing would be temporarily closed.

The closure will not apply to humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, approved on an individual basis by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Kamil Abu-Rukun.

The decision was made in response to continued arson terror perpetrated by Gazan terrorists using incendiary kites and balloons sent from Gaza into Israeli territory, as well as other attempts at terror attacks.

In addition to the closure of Kerem Shalom, the decision was made not to allow the expansion of the fishing zone around Gaza to continue throughout the duration of the season. The fishing zone is usually six naval miles wide, but was temporarily expanded to nine naval miles three months ago.

The Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, Hamas' main ally in Gaza, blasted the Israeli government's decision to close the Kerem Shalom crossing, saying it was tantamount to "a declaration of war against the Palestinians."

An official statement by the Islamic Jihad said that "in view of the aggressive policy, we see the declaration of the Israeli terror government and its army as a declaration of war against the Palestinians. We will not remain helpless and respond."