BY ANNA AHRONHEIM, GIL HOFFMAN, JPOST

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that Israel would be taking a series of steps against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, starting with closing the Kerem Shalom crossing, in light of the continued launching of incendiary aerial devices toward southern Israel.

“We intend to immediately wield a heavy hand against Hamas,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction, vowing additional steps that he said he could not announce yet.

Kerem Shalom is the main commercial crossing into the Gaza Strip. The IDF announced that there would be no export or marketing of goods from the Gaza Strip – except for humanitarian supplies such as food and medicine which will have to be approved on an individual basis by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

In addition, the expansion over the last three months of the fishing water off the Gaza coast from six to nine nautical miles for the fishing season – which ends today – will not be extended, and the area will revert today to its original six miles.

The decision was made by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, after accepting the recommendations by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

“The State of Israel wants and works to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip in many ways,” the IDF said. “However, in light of the situation in which the Hamas terrorist organization exploits the residents of the Gaza Strip – and launches kites and explosive firebombs towards the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip and does not allow the continuation of the routine in the vicinity – these steps were taken.”

An estimated 7,000 acres have been burnt by aerial incendiary devices such as kites, balloons and condoms since March 30. The IDF warned on Monday that “if this trend persists, these measures will continue and even intensify. Continue Reading….