Over the past few days, rioters in Gaza have managed to destroy the pipelines that bring fuel into the territory, leaving residents unable to use their stoves or obtain gasoline for their vehicles. The rioters, apparently at the direction of Hamas officials, also attacked other infrastructure at the Kerem Shalom border crossing—the only link between Israel and Gaza—including conveyor belts for transporting raw materials. Having spoken with IDF officials responsible for monitoring the border crossing, Judah Ari Gross writes:
As part of an agreement late last year, Hamas handed over the keys to the Palestinian side of Kerem Shalom to the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas, [so that] the Palestinian Authority (PA) could collect taxes on the goods coming through the crossing. This was supposed to be the case for Egypt’s Rafah crossing as well, but Hamas recently seized back control of that passageway. (On Saturday, Egypt reopened Rafah Crossing as a temporary substitute for Kerem Shalom.)
With nothing coming through Kerem Shalom, that means no taxes are being collected by the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile, “all the taxes from Rafah go to Hamas,” [one IDF] officer said. Unnamed Palestinian sources told the Ynet news site on Saturday that they’d come to a similar conclusion: that the terror group had the crossing destroyed so that its rival, the PA, wouldn’t be able to collect taxes and Hamas would.
But shutting down Kerem Shalom also serves another, perhaps more important goal for Hamas as it gears up for this week’s “March of Return” protests. While the Israeli military believes Hamas is encouraging and directing the riots, the engine that is keeping them going runs on the anger and frustration of the residents of the Gaza Strip, which will only be increased in light of Kerem Shalom’s closure. “They are playing with their people, putting pressure on their people and then ‘exporting’ that pressure toward Israel, the PA, and the international community,” the officer said.