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August 2, 2018 9:26 am

Israeli PM Netanyahu Cancels Colombia Trip, Citing Gaza Situation

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, May 27, 2018. Photo: Menahem Kahana / Pool via Reuters / File.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled a trip to Colombia planned for next week due to the situation around the Gaza Strip, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not give further details. Netanyahu was due to travel to the Latin American country from Aug. 6-9.

Tensions have been high in recent weeks along the border between Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza. Netanyahu has also been hit by a political crisis over a law defining Israel as a Jewish state, which has drawn protests from its Arab minority and left-wing opposition.

On Wednesday, Israel said it was stopping shipments of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip in response to terrorists in the enclave launching incendiary balloons that have torched fields in Israel.

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The move, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday, was in response to a continuation of cross-border violence, despite assurances from Egypt, which has been trying to broker a truce, that it would end.

“We acceded to Egypt’s request,” Lieberman told reporters. “We allowed in gas and fuel, but there was an additional Egyptian commitment that there would be no more launches, no kites, no conflagrations, no friction along the fence.”

“Since those things are continuing, I decided to stop the supplies of gas and fuel to the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Israel has lost tracts of farmland and forests to fires set by kites and helium balloons laden with incendiary material and flown over from Gaza. Israel had already responded by preventing the entry of non-essential commercial goods to Gaza.

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