The United Nations special envoy for Middle East peace has called on Israel to reopen the Gaza Strip's only commercial goods crossing a day after Israel closed it as part of a crackdown on Hamas.
"Humanitarian assistance is no substitute for commerce and trade. I urge the authorities to reverse this decision," UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov said Tuesday.
Israel decided to close the Kerem Shalom crossing as retaliation for a wave of incendiary kites and balloons launched from the coastal enclave. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the move a
"heavying of our hands against the Hamas regime."
Mladenov also called on Hamas - which most of the West considers a terrorist organization - and other Palestinian factions to stop the incendiary kites and other "provocations."
Rudimentary flaming kites and balloons flown in recent months have proved to be the most damaging Palestinian action - burning 28 kilometres of Israeli land - since protest along the Gaza border
started in March.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum on Monday called the Israeli closure a "crime against humanity."
The Gaza Strip - home to around 2 million Palestinians - faces a severe lack of electricity, medicine and drinking water.
Also on Tuesday, a Palestinian protest boat set sail from the Gaza Strip in an attempt to break Israel naval blockade of the territory.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the boat was still sailing and had passed the naval blockade, according to a Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman.
An Israeli army spokeswoman declined to immediately comment on the army's response to the boat.
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