Hamas closes Gaza crossing with Israel after shadowy killing

AP News
Posted: Mar 26, 2017 4:06 AM
Hamas closes Gaza crossing with Israel after shadowy killing

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza's Hamas rulers shut down the territory's main border crossing with Israel Sunday in a rare measure following the mysterious killing of a senior militant.

Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said the Erez crossing point will be "fully closed in both directions" until further notice.

The unusual measure came after a senior Hamas militant, Mazen Faqha, was found shot dead at the entrance of his Gaza City home late Friday. Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, said Faqha was shot four times in the head with a silenced gun and blamed Israel for "assassinating" him, without providing evidence.

Suspecting that local collaborators with Israel were involved, Hamas has since deployed dozens of checkpoints across the Gaza Strip, where drivers are asked to turn on their interior lights and hand over IDs for inspection. The closing of Erez also applies to journalists, aid workers and patients needing medical help in Israel.

Faqha, who was given nine life sentences for directing suicide bombing attacks against Israelis, was freed in 2011 along with more than 1,000 others as part of an exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. Faqha was among dozens of West Bank residents Israel deported to Gaza or elsewhere because of the severity of their crimes.

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His funeral Saturday drew thousands of supporters, including the movement's top leaders in Gaza, who vowed to avenge the killing.

Israel has not commented on the killing.