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Israel Closes Border Crossing After Palestinian Protesters Break In

Israel has closed a border crossing with Gaza a day after it was damaged during Palestinian protests.

The military said dozens of Palestinians on Friday broke into the Kerem Shalom terminal and set a gas pipeline alight. The blaze damaged the pipeline and a conveyor belt that transfers goods in and out of the territory.

Israel said the crossing will remain closed until the damage is repaired and the situation assessed. Meanwhile, it is expected to be open for only humanitarian cases, the military said.

Kerem Shalom is one of three main border crossings between Gaza, Israel, and Egypt. It is the one where most goods pass through on a daily basis.

Friday's damage occurred during what have become weekly protests by Palestinians over Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory governed by the Hamas Islamic organization. A year after Hamas won power in Gaza's 2006 legislative elections, Israel and Egypt placed a blockade on the territory, which has hindered economic growth and exacerbated poverty in Gaza.

On Friday, the Gaza Health Ministry said one Palestinian was killed and 49 were injured when members of the Israeli army fired on protesters near the border fence with Israel and the Gazan city of Khan Younis.

In a statement Friday, the Israeli Defense Forces said about 5,000 Palestinians took part in the protests, most of which it said were peaceful. IDF said it only targets protesters who threaten the border.

Protests at the border have been taking place for weeks over the decade-long blockade of the Palestinian territory, where many families live in poverty. The IDF said some of the protesters have been burning tires, hurling rocks or homemade explosives, or even flying kites with burning rags attached over the border with Israel.

Israeli forces have responded with tear gas and gunshots.

The protests come just before Monday's opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, and Tuesday's 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

The Palestinians have nicknamed Israel's founding "an-Nakba," or "catastrophe," because it led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians being forced from their homes in what had been the state of Palestine.

Source: Voice of America