JERUSALEM, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Israel has extended the closure of the main crossing point with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, to prevent the entry of thousands of Palestinian laborers following protests along the volatile border.
The Office of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), an Israeli Defense Ministry unit that coordinates with the Palestinians, said in a press release that the Erez Crossing, the only pedestrian crossing between Gaza and Israel, will remain closed.
The move is "harming Gaza workers and their families, as well as other permit holders who need to travel for humanitarian needs," Gisha, a human rights organization said in a statement.
The measure was taken following an instruction by Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, according to the press release, saying the crossing would be reopened "in accordance with situational assessments."
Although the crossing was planned to be reopened on Monday, COGAT announced that it would remain closed due to the eruption of violent protests.
During days of demonstrations, protestors along the fence have hurled stones and explosives at Israeli troops, who responded with live fire. According to Palestinian media reports, at least one Palestinian was killed and dozens injured by Israeli gunfire.
Approximately 20,000 Gazans hold permits from Israeli authorities to work in Israel, contributing significantly to the much-needed influx of funds into the economy of the coastal enclave. ■