Israel has announced a “total” blockade of the already besieged Gaza Strip, including a ban on food and water, after Hamas carried out the biggest attack on the country in decades.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Monday authorities would cut electricity and block the entry of food and fuel as part of “a complete siege” on Hamas-run Gaza, where about 2.3 million people live in one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
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The Israeli blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip, in its current form, has been in place since June 2007. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, as well as two of the three border crossing points; the third is controlled by Egypt.
“We are putting a complete siege on Gaza … No electricity, no food, no water, no gas – it’s all closed,” Gallant said in a video statement.
Israel’s chief military spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, told reporters on Monday that Israel has “control” of its communities following Saturday’s mass incursion of Hamas fighters into its territory.
Hagari said there had been some isolated incidents on Monday morning, but that “at this stage, there is no fighting in the communities”.
He added that “there might still be terrorists in the region”.
Israeli tanks and drones were guarding openings in the fence to prevent more infiltrations, Hagari said, adding that 15 of 24 border communities had been evacuated, with the rest expected to be evacuated over the next 24 hours.
Earlier, Hamas spokesperson Abdel-Latif al-Qanoua told The Associated Press news agency that the group’s fighters continued to battle outside Gaza and had captured more Israelis as recently as Monday morning.
He said the group aims to free all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, which in the past has agreed to lopsided exchange deals in which it released large numbers of prisoners for individual captives or even the remains of soldiers.