Following a brief and sporadic hiatus, the cycle of violence recently resumed on both sides in the Gaza Strip. During the past three days, Israel killed at least 16 Palestinians, and heavy barrages of rockets slammed into Sderot and other communities bordering Gaza in response to Israel's retaliation for the suicide bombing in Dimona. The Israel Defense Forces used ground and air forces in the northern and southern Gaza Strip.

This cycle of bloodshed has already proved pointless. The Palestinians gain nothing by firing Qassam rockets, but Israel is not helping itself with its extensive operations in the Strip.

More killing in Gaza results in more Qassams launched against Sderot, and more Qassams result in more killing; an endless cycle of blood that leads nowhere.

The short hiatus, 11 days, in the heavy Qassam strikes against the northern Negev was not coincidental. During those days the Rafah crossing was open. The Palestinians during those few days of relative liberty had something to lose.

Most of the Gaza residents took advantage of the period to stock up on basic supplies, fuel, food and medicine, following a long, oppressive blockade. It is also possible to assume that the terrorist groups took advantage of the breach in the wall to acquire weapons, ammunition and reinforcements, and apparently also tried to dispatch attackers against Israel through the southern border with Egypt.

Israel, just like Egypt, is of course unable to agree to a breached border that is open to all. On the other hand, the fact the Qassam attacks slowed to a near standstill during the days the crossing was open suggests that Israel should be interested in the orderly opening of a crossing to Egypt and in lifting the total blockade on the Strip - a siege that has so far not furthered any of Israel's goals.

This is not about repeating the recent lawlessness at the Rafah crossing. No state, and Egypt especially, would agree to having a breached border crossing at its frontier.

And Israel cannot accept the traffic of arms and terrorists in and out of the Strip. Therefore, Israel's interest should clearly be the controlled and supervised opening of the crossing at Rafah. If indeed, this happens, then perhaps the hiatus in the violence will be extended, as was the case recently. Therefore, Israel must lift its objections to the opening of the Rafah crossing, and work with Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and the European Union toward its supervised opening. Some IDF officials have already spoken in favor of opening the crossing.

An opening of the Gaza Strip could signal the start of a new chapter in the history of this poor and wretched territory.

This is not a move free of risk, and the concerns of Egypt and Israel regarding its implications are justified. It is possible to prepare for them through close supervision of the crossing. On the other hand, all the other alternatives, which only imply mutual bloodletting, are much worse.

The Qassam attacks will end only when the Palestinians have something to lose. This has so far not come about through Israeli retaliatory actions; it may occur if the blockade is lifted in the Gaza Strip, at least in the southern border.