Sunday, March 24, 2013 – Amid assurances to Turkey by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of easing Gaza access, Israel has tightened restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, as part of what appears to be a new policy of openly blocking civilian access in direct response to fire by combatants. Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement sent an urgent letter today to the new defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, demanding that the new restrictions be lifted (an English translation of the original letter is available here).
Since Thursday, Gaza’s only goods crossing has been closed, and travel by Palestinians into and out of Gaza through Israel has been blocked, except for medical patients and other exceptional cases. Israel also reduced the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza from six to three nautical miles. The restrictions came after militants from Gaza Thursday fired rockets at civilian population centers in southern Israel.