Israel tightens Gaza restrictions amid heightened tensions

Passage of fuel, gas to be stopped

By AMIR TAL, KAREEM KHADDER AND ANDREW CAREY, CNN
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JERUSALEM (CNN) - Israel is tightening restrictions on Gaza amid heightened tensions with militants in the coastal enclave.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced that the passage of fuel and gas through the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza would be stopped from Tuesday, according to a statement released from his office on Monday.

The statement said the move was in response to what it called continued terror attempts by Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza.

Liberman also announced that Gaza's fishermen would be restricted to a zone extending three nautical miles from the coast, cutting the permitted zone to half its previous size.

The restrictions would remain in place until Sunday, the statement said. Food and medicine would be allowed through after approval on a case-by-case basis.

Independent Palestinian politician Jamal Al-Khoudari told CNN the new restrictions were an attempt to "shock and strangle Gaza."

A spokesperson for Hamas, Fawzi Barhoum, appealed for international condemnation of the announcement, saying in a statement, "The world and the region's silence, and the absence of deterrent decisions, promoted the Israeli Occupation to perpetrate more atrocities and crimes against the Palestinian people."

The Israel Defense Forces reported one projectile fired from Gaza toward Israel on Monday.

The IDF said it had apparently fallen inside Gaza.

Earlier Monday, the IDF said its warplanes had struck two Hamas positions, from where it said militants were launching arson attacks on Israel using incendiary balloons.

Saturday witnessed the sharpest exchanges between Israel and militants in four years.

The IDF said more than 200 rockets and mortars were fired toward Israel, wounding four people, according to Israel's emergency medical service, MDA.

The Israeli air force carried out its biggest strike on Gaza since the last war there in August 2014, killing two teenagers, according to Palestinian health officials.

On Sunday, the IDF announced it was reinforcing its Iron Dome aerial defense batteries in central and southern Israel, and calling up a small number of reservists to operate the added deployment.

The UN's Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov, on a visit to Gaza Sunday, warned that the enclave was on the brink of war, and appealed to both sides to step back.

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