Hamas informed Gazan merchants on Tuesday that it would stop fruit imports from Israel from entering Gaza starting Wednesday, Kan News reported.
The move comes in response to Israel’s closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing for non-humanitarian cases and in an attempt by Hamas to cause economic damage to Israeli farmers who are exporting fruit to Gaza. On average, 30-40 truckloads of fruit enter Gaza daily, according to Kan News.
On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced that 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.
The move is not the first time that Hamas has banned fruit imports from Israel in a move which is aimed at “punishing” Israel but which essentially punishes Gazans.
In the past, Hamas has refused to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority in allowing Gazans to cross into Israel for medical treatment, due to its longstanding row with the Fatah movement.
Earlier on Tuesday, the UN’s Middle East envoy expressed concern over Israel’s decision to close the Kerem Shalom crossing and urged Israel to reverse the decision.
“Humanitarian assistance is no substitute for commerce and trade. I urge the authorities to reverse this decision,” said the envoy, Nickolay 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.”