Israel opens Gaza border to let in humanitarian aid
Hamas officials quoted as saying militants struck deal with Israel to resume truce if crossings opened.
Israel partially its border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Monday to allow the transfer of humanitarian aid, following a reduction in rocket attacks from the strip over the past few days.
The border crossings have been all but completely shut for 19 days amid a deteriorating five-month-old truce, with only one convoy of 33 trucks with essential humanitarian supplies entering the strip one week ago.
The move came a day after Hamas was quoted by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an as saying militants groups had reached a deal with Israel to resume the cease-fire if the crossings were opened.
It was not clear whether the decision to reopen the crossings came in tandem with the alleged deal.
Defense officials held consultations Monday to debate easing the blockade if no new rockets landed in Israel. They agreed some 44 trucks with basic goods could enter through the Kerem Shalom crossings with the southern Gaza Strip.
In addition, Israel has resumed pumping diesel to the Gaza Strip after a break that cut off supplies to the territory's power plant and caused widespread electricity blackouts.
Gas stations' association chief Mahmoud Khazandar said the flow of industrial fuel resumed Monday morning after a three-week break. He did not know how much would be pumped through the trans-border pipeline.
Hamas Health Minister Basim Naeem said Gaza faced a "real crisis that cannot be alleviated by these Zionist tricks," referring to the limited number of trucks allowed in.
In the latest violation of the fragile cease-fire, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired two Qassam rockets into the western Negev on Sunday evening, according to Israel Radio.
The rocket attacks caused neither casualties nor property damage.
Government officials have cited intelligence information that Hamas was interested in restoring the truce, fearing the severe blockade may weaken its standing in the strip, and has begun acting against militants of other factions who have continued launching the rockets, radio reports said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, told Israel Radio on Monday that if Hamas wanted the truce, Israel would be willing to keep it. He added however that the Israel Defense Forces was ready to act if it did not.
According to the Ma'an news agency, Hamas announced on Sunday that militant groups in Gaza have agreed to cease cross-border rocket attacks if Israel opens crossings into the coastal territory.
The Palestinian news agency quoted Hamas official Ayman Taha as saying that the militant groups reached the deal with Israel after it was the proposal was relayed to them by Egypt.
According to Ma'an news, Taha said: "We met with factions in the Gaza Strip and told them about the request. They agreed in order to ease the influence of the siege."