Israeli authorities on Tuesday prevented a shipment of goods from entering the Gaza Strip following deadly blasts targeting Fatah on the Palestinian side of the crossing, an official said, as Fatah continues to blame Hamas for the attacks.
Raed Fattouh, a Palestinian official responsible for the entry of goods into Gaza, said that a shipment of diesel fuel, in addition to 300 truckloads of goods for the trade, agricultural, transportation, and aid sectors were scheduled to enter Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing, but that Israeli authorities canceled the shipments.
Under Israeli blockade by air, land and sea since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world. Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh – the Rafah crossing – is controlled by Egypt, which recently closed it following a wave of attacks in Sinai.
Israel sealed four of its commercial crossings with Gaza in June 2007 after Palestinian resistance movement Hamas wrested control of the strip from the Palestinian Authority.
As it currently stands, the Israeli authorities allow the Kerem Shalom crossing – which links Gaza to both the Israeli-occupied territories and Egypt – to operate for commercial purposes.
The Gaza-Israel Erez crossing, meanwhile, is generally devoted to the movement of individuals between the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.
On Friday, a series of coordinated bombings targeted the homes of some leading Fatah members in the Gaza Strip.
One of the bombs went off close to a stage set up for the planned event to mark the ten-year anniversary of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death.
The attacks came a day before the Palestinian cabinet was supposed to visit Gaza from the West Bank and amid rising optimism over the political reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas that was launched in April after seven years of division.
Some have speculated that whoever was behind the blasts could have been trying to thwart reconciliation and ensure the Palestinian Authority did not re-extend its control over Gaza.
Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya warned against using the incident as an excuse to avoid reconciliation, calling on all sides to uphold their responsibilities towards the national good.
On Tuesday, however, PA President Mahmoud Abbas accused the leadership of the Hamas movement of being behind the attacks.
In a televised speech commemorating the late Arafat at the presidential compound in Ramallah, Abbas said “Hamas’ leaders are responsible for the criminal explosions at houses of Fatah leaders in Gaza, and Hamas remarks against us are similar to those of the occupation.”
Following his speech, Hamas denounced Abbas as “sectarian and partisan.”
“Abbas’s speech is web of lies, insults, and disinformation,” said Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza.
“What the Palestinian people need is a courageous president,” he added.
The Hamas movement, along with Islamic Jihad and a leader of Salafi militant groups, immediately condemned and denied involvement in Friday’s bomb attacks.
UN chief sets up Gaza inquiry
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday appointed a five-member panel to investigate Israeli attacks on UN shelters during the Gaza war and the alleged discovery of weapons at UN sites.
Ban announced plans to set up a probe during his visit to Gaza last month after describing Israeli shelling of UN-run schools as a “moral outrage.”
At least five UN facilities were hit during the 50-day Israeli aggression, killing at least 2,180 Palestinians, including more than 505 children according to the UN refugee agency UNRWA.
The inquiry led by retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert will “review and investigate a number of specific incidents in which death or injuries occurred at, and/or damage was done to United Nations premises,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq was quoted by Ma’an news agency as saying.
“It (the inquiry) will focus on incidents from July 8 to August 26,” he added.
UNRWA confirmed early October that 138 UNRWA students were killed during that time.
The agency’s spokesperson Christopher Gunness said that an additional 814 UNRWA students were injured and 560 have become orphans due to the Israeli onslaught.
A former military adviser to Ban, Cammaert also served as UN force commander in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and for the mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Other panel members are legal expert Maria Vicien-Milburn of Argentina, who is general counsel for the UN culture agency UNESCO, American Lee O’Brien, who has worked on Middle East affairs at the UN department of political affairs, Canadian Pierre Lemelin and KC Reddy of India.
The UN spokesman emphasized that Ban “expects that the board will enjoy the full cooperation of all parties concerned.”
Ban toured the site of damaged UN shelters during his visit last month and declared that the destruction from the war was “beyond description.”
UN officials have said that rockets were found in vacant shelters and condemned those responsible.
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva separately has set up a commission of inquiry into the Gaza offensive, led by Canadian lawyer William Schabas.
Source: Al-Akhbar English