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Israeli Gaza Strip barrier
The Israeli Gaza Strip barrier is a separation barrier along the armistice line of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The barrier is one of several constructed by various governments in a variety of locations to prevent the unauthorized movement of people across the barrier. See separation barrier for a list of similar structures.
The 30 mile (52 kilometer) long barrier was constructed in 1994 by Israel under the leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It consists mainly of a wire fence with posts, sensors, and buffer zones. There are several crossing points in the barrier: Erez Crossing , the Rafah Crossing , Sufa crossing , Kissufim crossing , and the Karni crossing used mainly for cargo. The barrier is augmented by an open observation area 300 meters wide on the Gaza side of the barrier. Israel claims that the barrier has been effective in preventing terrorists and suicide bombers from leaving Gaza. Since 1996, all suicide bombers trying to leave Gaza have detonated their charges at the barrier's crossing points. As a result, Palestinian militants have developed Qassam rockets and mortars to fire over the barrier.
Along the Egyptian border with Rafah, a steel wall was erected along the "Philadelphie Route", with several large armored posts along it. Rafah is an area of daily clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. Almost every day there is shooting of heavy fire, anti-tank missiles, and grenades on IDF forces and outposts. This heavy fortification system is meant to protect the soldiers' lives and stop smuggling tunnels which are used by Palestinian militants to obtain weapons and explosives that are "illegal" according to Israel. Since the legality of the occupation of Gaza and all the Palestinian territories is not recognized by the United Nations or any individual country, the question of legality of weapons and the right of resistance to occupation is a contentious one.
The Gaza barrier is less controversial than the Israeli West Bank barrier, as it traces the actual border with Gaza, whereas the West Bank Wall delves significantly outside of the 1949 armistice lines, Israel's internationally recognized frontier. The is the main reason why the latter was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice.
History and Purpose
The Erez Crossing is used as the main gateway for Palestinian workers to earn a living in the Israeli "Erez industrial zone " (EIZ). The opening at Erez crossing is vital for the Palestinian economy in the Gaza Strip and its closing cut off thousands of Palestinians from their jobs. During the al-Aqsa Intifada the crossing came under heavy attack.
The Karni crossing is a crossing for transporting cargo and goods, enabling Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to trade with each other. It is vitally important to the Palestinian economy, since it is the only way to export goods from the Gaza, after their seaport and airport were closed by Israel during the recent wave of unrest. The Karni crossing is frequently closed by Israel, usually after attempts to smuggle explosives through it, sometimes for stated security reasons and sometimes without reasons being given.
List of attacks on Gaza Strip crossing points
Note: the list up to June 8 2003 is according to IDF data.
- September 14, 2001: 5 grenades are hurled at IDF forces at the Erez Crossing, wounding two Israeli Border Police officers.
- April 12, 2002: Light weapons fire is directed and grenades are hurled at the Erez Crossing, killing one Israeli Border Police officer, and wounding 4 Israeli civilians.
- April 19, 2002: A booby-trapped car explodes near Gush Katif Junction, lightly wounding two IDF soldiers.
- June 21, 2002: A militant infiltrates the Erez Crossing and hurls grenades. IDF forces return fire, killing the man. Two Palestinian workers are killed.
- June 25, 2002: A militant approaches an IDF position near the Karni Crossing, hurls grenades and opens fire, lightly wounding an IDF soldier.
- November 11, 2002: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blows himself up on the way to carry out an attack against IDF forces at the Erez Crossing.
- December 2, 2002: An armed militant is killed after opening firing and hurling grenades in the area of Erez Industrial Zone.
- April 15, 2003: A militant infiltrates the Karni Crossing, opens fire, and hurls six grenades. Two Israeli civilians are killed in the attack.
- June 8, 2003: Three militants infiltrate the IDF position known as "Shield 12," near the Erez Crossing. They open fire and hurl grenades, killing four IDF soldiers. Four additional IDF soldiers are wounded.
- January 14, 2004: A Palestinian female suicide bomber blows herself up Wednesday at the Erez crossing, killing at least four Israelis and wounding seven other people.
- February 26, 2004: Two Palestinian militants infiltrate the Erez Industrial Zone through a tunnel hidden under Palestinian shops. IDF reserves force respond to the alert and find the men. During the gunfight one IDF soldier and the two militants are killed.
- March 6, 2004: A combined attack of explosive jeeps and gun assult on Erez crossing ends with six Palestinian killed. The first car that explodes near Erez crossing causes no casualties except the driver. A gunfight erupts as Palestinian militants came to the scene in jeeps disguised as IDF jeeps. Soldiers return fire and kill two militants. The second jeep explodes near a Palestinian police post, killing the driver and two Palestinian policemen and wounding 15 people. Hamas, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Islamic Jihad claim joint responsibiloty for the attack.
- April 17, 2004: a suicide bomber kills 1 and wounds 3 Israelis at Erez crossing. Hamas claims responsibility.
- May 5, 2004: Two armed Palestinians attack the Karni crossing security fence. An explosive charge is activated when the IDF responds to the incident, but no injuries are inflicted. The IDF force kills the two gunmen.
- May 28, 2004: Two militants try to ram a bomb jeep onto a bus carrying 40 Israeli workers of the Rafah crossing . The attempt only manages to lightly wound two soldiers in an army jeep, which blocked the way of the bomb-laden jeep. The Popular Resistance Committees, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claim joint responsibility for the failed attack.
- June 30, 2004: Palestinian gunmen open fire on Karni crossing, but caused no casualties.
- August 29, 2004: A suicide bombing at the Karni crossing is thwarted after an IDF Combat engineering force identifies 3 militants approaching from the south. The force opens fire killing one man. A Kalachnikov, 4 magazines, 2 frag grenades and explosive belt are found on the corpse of the dead militant.
- August 31, 2004: A suicide bomb attack is thwarted at Erez crossing when, during security checks, explosives are found inside a Palestinian's trousers. The man is arrested and disarmed.
- August 31, 2004: a Qassam rocket is fired on Erez crossing, but causes no injuries.
- October 1, 2004: one militant is killed and six arrested by IDF forces, in a Palestinian police office near the Erez crossing. An explosive belt and several rifles are captured in the office. The seven apparently planned to commit a combined suicide attack on the Erez crossing.
- December 12, 2004: five soldiers are killed as approximately 1.5 tons of explosives were detonated in a tunnel under an Israeli military-controlled border crossing on the Egyptian border with Gaza near Rafah, collapsing several structures and damaging others. The explosion destroyed part of the JVT outpost and killed three soldiers. Two Palestinian militants then penetrated the outpost and killed two other Israeli soldiers with gunfire. Due to the explosion, the destroyed Rafah crossing was closed. The Fatah Hawks claimed responsibility.
- January 4, 2005: one militant is killed by an IDF soldier, after he stormed the Erez crossing and threw grenades over soldiers and pilgrims. He planted an explosive charge on a wall near the humanitarian crossing as Palestinians were allowed to pass in order to commit a haj to Mecca. The Islamic Jihad and the Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed joint responsibility.
- January 13, 2005: Two Palestinian suicide bombers explode themselves and a truck ladden with explosives in the Karni crossing - a terminal in the eastern Gaza Strip allowing Palestinian merchants to export goods. At least 6 people were killed and about 10-20 were wounded in the attack. Palestinian militants allegedly launched mortar shells against ambulances who came to evacuate the wounded and treat the casualties. Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Hamas claimed joint responsibility.
List of attacks through Gaza Strip crossing points
- March 14, 2004: two suicide bombers of Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades explode themselves in Ashdod seaport, killing 10 people. They infiltrated the port by hiding inside a double-partition cargo container, smuggled through the Karni cargo crossing .
- April 29, 2004: An explosive belt, smuggled in a Palestinian clothes container, is captured in Karni crossing by an alert security guard.
- Mua'in Atallah, an officer in the Palestinian Authority's preventive-security force, which is responsible for securing the Karni cargo crossing from the Palestinian side, is arrested for helping Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commit the suicide bombing in Ashdod seaport which killed 10 people. Atallah admitted guilt during the investigation and revealed that by closing off the crossing, Israel thwarted a huge attack planned by Hamas.
- October 2, 2004: four Palestinian militants cut through the fence near Karni crossing in the early morning, in an attempt to infiltrate Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the north-west Negev. They are killed by IDF Combat Engineering force and special unit. Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed joint responsibility.
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