Israel opens Gaza border after 10-day total closure

December 26th, 2008 - 6:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv, Dec 26 (DPA) Israel opened three of its border crossings with the Gaza Strip Friday morning to allow in essential humanitarian supplies for the first time in 10 days.Some 40 trucks with food products and medical supplies, donated, among others, by Egypt and the UN, passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing with southern Gaza.

Another 40 trucks with grain, mainly wheat, also passed through the Karni crossing for commercial goods, east of Gaza City, an Israeli defence official said.

A limited supply of industrial diesel for Gaza’s only power plant as well as cooking gas also entered through the Nahal Oz fuel crossing, said Major Peter Lerner of the Defence Ministry’s office which coordinates Israeli government activities in Gaza and the West Bank.

He said the aid shipment was the first since Dec 16 and came despite ongoing rocket and mortar attacks from the strip.

A shipment scheduled to enter Wednesday had been cancelled at the last minute following a surge in the rocket and mortar fire.

Palestinian militants launched at least seven mortar shells at southern Israel overnight, a military spokesman in Tel Aviv confirmed, although Israeli media reported a larger number - as many as 20.

Most fell in open fields in the southern Israeli Eshkol region, but one struck inside a community and damaged an empty building.

Since a fragile, six-month truce mediated by Egypt formally expired one week ago, militants in Gaza have launched more than 170 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, the military said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert used an interview on the Dubai-based al-Arabiya Arabic television channel to issue a passionate “last warning” to end the rocket fire before Israel would be forced to launch what was likely to be a deadly military operation in Gaza.

“We keep restraining ourselves and keep restraining ourselves (and say) let’s wait, let’s wait (but the militant factions in Gaza) keep shooting and shooting and shooting.

“We are stronger,” he said, warning that a military confrontation would cause “more bloodshed” in Gaza.

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