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Hamas closes Israel-Gaza border crossing

IANS | Gaza |

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Sunday shut down the only passageway between the Gaza Strip and Israel following the assassination of one of the group's senior commanders.

Last week, unidentified gunmen in Gaza opened fire at Mazen Faqha, a Hamas leader who had been released from an Israeli jail under the prisoner exchange agreement between the Islamist movement and Israel in 2011, Efe news reported.

"The closure of the Beit Hanoun crossing (Erez) comes as part of the steps being taken by the security apparatus following the crime of assassinating Faqha," Hamas spokesman Iyad Bazm said in a statement.

Hamas blamed Israel for Faqha's killing and said: "The occupation knows that the blood of those struggling in the way of God will not be wasted."

The Erez border crossing is the only land crossing between Gaza and Israel, allowing the movement of Palestinians and foreigners, mainly humanitarian workers, reporters and diplomats.

This is the first time Hamas has closed the crossing since taking over Gaza in 2007.