GAZA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli authorities closed the only pedestrian crossing to the Gaza Strip, the Erez Crossing, on Monday, preventing Gazan workers from reaching their workplaces in Israeli cities.
Ghassan Alyan, coordinator of Israeli government activities in the Palestinian territories, said in a press statement that the closure will "last for 24 hours" and "the Erez Crossing will be reopened after evaluating the security situation in the coastal enclave."
Meanwhile, a Palestinian source told Xinhua that the Israeli side closed the crossing "as a punishment to Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), the ruler of Gaza, over the latest violent protests in the eastern parts of the coastal enclave."
The Israeli move came after hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza demonstrated near the border and clashed with Israeli soldiers stationed there.
The demonstrations took place on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, as the protesters threw stones and some homemade explosive devices at the Israeli soldiers.
In a bid to disperse the protesters, the Israeli army fired live bullets and tear gas, wounding some of the "rioters," according to the Israeli army.
During the protests that took place on Wednesday, at least five Palestinians were killed, while they were trying to throw an explosive device at the Israeli soldiers.
According to official Palestinian and Israeli statistics, about 18,000 Palestinian workers from Gaza work in various Israeli cities, of whom 9,000 exit daily through the Erez Crossing. ■