Israel to reopen Erez border crossing with Gaza: minister

Jerusalem: Israel will reopen the Erez border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, a week after closing it due to clashes.

In a statement from his office on Sunday, Lieberman said the decision to reopen Erez, the only crossing for people in the north of the Palestinian enclave, was made “given the calm along the border”.

Israel closed the crossing on August 19 in response to what Lieberman then called “violent incidents”, tightening its blockade of the landlocked territory run by the Islamist movement Hamas.

The Erez crossing is the only one for people between Israel and Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade for a decade.

Gaza’s sole crossing with Egypt has also remained largely closed in recent years.

For several weeks, Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to forge a lasting ceasefire between Hamas and Israel after months of tensions and violence.

Palestinians in Gaza have gathered at the border since March 30 calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former lands now inside Israel.

During this time, at least 172 Gazans have been killed by Israeli fire. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.

There have also been several severe military flare-ups, including three since July.

Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.