Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday instructed the defense establishment to reopen the goods crossings into the Gaza Strip following a personal request made by Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. The crossings will reopen partially on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the new decision, the crossings will operate several hours, rather than the entire day. The elements involved in the issue will form a proper plan, setting the list of priorities for the entry of goods into Gaza.
Over the past few days, when the crossings were open, equipment was brought into Gaza through the Sufa crossing on some 80 trucks. The Nahal Oz fuel terminal was open, as well as one terminal at the Karni crossing.
Security sources have noted that had the truce been maintained since it went into effect, the extent of equipment sent into the Gaza Strip would have grown according to an agreement with Egypt. However, following the rocket and mortar fire, the amount of goods brought into Gaza was reduced.
Watermelon at Sufa crossing (Photo: AFP)
The sources added that Israel would respond as it sees fit to any violation of the ceasefire. "At the moment, our response is closing the truce. If needed, we will take other measures. It must be clear that any rocket, of any kind, is a clear violation of the agreement and we shall not ignore it," a defense source said.
Crossings closed following mortar attack
On Monday, Barak ruled against the reopening of Israel's goods crossings with Gaza, in wake of Sunday's mortar fire on Israel.
Palestinian gunmen fired a mortar shell at Karni crossing on noon Sunday. The rocket landed in an open area near the crossing causing no injuries or damage.
Sunday saw a another violation of the truce, as Palestinian snipers fired at farmers at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. No injuries or damage were reported in the incident, which was the first of its kind since the ceasefire came into effect.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh blamed Israel for not keeping its end of the agreement, saying "maintaining the ceasefire is a national priority for the Palestinian people, but Israel has to life the siege on Gaza and reopen the crossings."
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum reiterated, saying that "the facts on the ground prove Israel isn't interested in a truce," and adding that the ceasefire has reached it end.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said recently that a truce "cannot be enforced in full immediately, and therefore Israel has and will show patience; but that patience should not be misconstrued as weakness. If the ceasefire is violated, we will know how to react."