Israel reopens Gaza crossings after closures over Qassams
IDF sensors pick up mortar launch hours before borders unsealed; crossings shut desite truce.
Israel reopened its border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Sunday to allow a trickle of goods into the territory, putting a rocky cease-fire back on course after Palestinian rocket fire last week led to a closure of the passages.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has decided to open the border, which were closed last Wednesday after Gaza militants fired three rockets into Israel - the first such attack since the truce went into effect on June 19. More rockets were fired the next day.
The decision was made following telephone security consultations between Barak, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and intelligence officials from the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service.
Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces' sensing equipment picked up the launch of a mortar shell from Gaza late Saturday, the military said, but it was unclear where it hit. No casualties or damage were reported, and no militant group took responsibility.
Israeli military liaison official Peter Lerner said the Sufa and Karni commercial crossings, the Nahal Oz fuel transfer depot and the Erez border terminal for travelers resumed operations at 8 A.M. with some restrictions.
Under the cease-fire, Israel has pledged to gradually increase the flow of goods into Gaza.
Israel had been expected to reopen the crossing on Friday, even after two mortar shells from Gaza hit the western Negev on Friday, exploding in open areas.
But at a high-level security meeting late Thursday, Israel decided to keep the crossings shut. Defense officials said a limited amount of fuel would be transferred into the Strip despite the closure.
The Egyptian-mediated cease-fire went into effect a week ago Thursday. UN sources said that since the truce started, Israeli forces fired into the Gaza Strip at least eight times, wounding two people. Palestinians fired rockets and mortar bombs into Israel at least three times, according to the Israeli army.
Meanwhile, Hamas minister Mahmoud Zahar said Friday that the ruling group would arrest anyone who tries to break the cease-fire with Israel and would confiscate their weapons whether they are from Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
In an interview published in the Saudi daily Al-Watan, Zahar said anyone who overstepped the national consensus and harmed the interests of the Palestinian people was operating not as a resistance group would but as someone who wants to harm the resistance