The makeshift checkpoint, erected on Wednesday morning, is being monitored by four Israeli army tanks overlooking the road that connects Gaza City to the central and southern Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said even pedestrian traffic on these routes came to a halt after Israeli helicopter gunships fired two rockets at a crowd of Palestnians trying to make their way by foot across the barrier even as Israeli snipers fired randomly in the group's direction.

The rockets landed in the waters off the Gaza coast.

Not far from the site, in Zahra village Israeli bulldozers razed several acres of agricultural land belonging to the Shamalakh family.

Further south, Aljazeera's correspondent reported that Israeli army bulldozers demolished 22 houses in the Khan Yunus refugee camp.

Tulkarm siege

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Muain Shadid, Aljazeera correspondent, reported that the Tulkarm refugee camp was the target of an Israeli search-and-destroy operation on Wednesday.

Homes in Tulkarm are once again
being raided and dynamited

The occupation forces, backed by military vehicles, stormed the camp amid heavy firing and explosions.

They have kept the city under a tight siege while isolating the villages and towns of Kafriyat by blocking the Kafriyat crossing.

The soldiers raided several homes in the  Madaris and Balawna quarters and dynamited the home of Mohammad Shahada al-Ubbad, field leader of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Since Tuesday night, Israeli occupation forces have also taken over a four-storey building in the northern quarter overlooking the refugee camp for use as an army barracks but have not allowed occupants to leave their apartments.

Local residents said soldiers were using civilians as human shields and forcing families out of buildings during raids.

All the entrances to the Tulkarm refugee camp have been sealed by Israeli military vehicles.

Unending agony

Palestinian officials say Israel is
 inflicting collective punishment

Wednesday's incidents occurred against the backdrop of a month-long Israeli siege of the northern Gaza village of Bait Hanun and the closure of the Rafah border crossing - the coastal strip's only route to the outside world - for over 11 days now.

More than 2000 Palestinians, including senior citizens, college students, and patients returning from medical check-ups, are stranded on the Egyptian side of crossing, according to Palestinian security sources.

Palestinian officials have asked aid agencies and the international community to intervene and stop what they call Israel's "discriminatory and humiliating policy of collective punishment" at the Rafah terminal.