GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Israel will not open the Gaza Strip’s main cargo crossing on Thursday, the army said, counter to expectations.
The Karni passage has been closed since an explosion there Feb. 21, amid Israeli concerns that Palestinian militants were planning attacks there, concerns Palestinians say are unjustified. The crossing has been closed for a total of five weeks this year, causing economic hardships.
Palestinian crossing officials said Wednesday that they had been informed by their Israeli counterparts that Karni would be opened Thursday. And Israeli military sources had said that was the plan.
“We had already informed the merchants that Karni would open,” said Salim Abu Safiyeh, director-general of the Palestinian Border Authority. “The continued closure is causing humanitarian and economic harm to the Palestinian people, and threatening a real shortage in food supplies.”
Israel had informed the Palestinians Wednesday night that Karni would not reopen because Palestinian militants continued to fire rockets toward Israeli points in the area, Abu Safiyeh said. The Palestinians frequently fire the homemade rockets toward Israel from Gaza, but they rarely cause any casualties. The miltiary did not explain its decision to keep the passage closed.
The news Wednesday that Karni would open prompted Palestinian farmers to cancel plans to dump hundreds of tons of produce that has nearly spoiled while it waited at the crossing to be exported to Israel and Europe.