Crossings into Gaza will be opened Friday to allow for the transition of humanitarian supplies to the Palestinian residents of the area, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced Thursday evening.
The decision, reached despite Thursday's rocket fire on Israel's southern region, was based on recommendations by professionals in the defense establishment, as well as appeals from international sources.
The crossings were set to be opened earlier in the week but remained closed following more Qassam attacks that emanated from the Hamas-controlled enclave.
On Friday morning, barring an unforeseen development, some 40 trucks loaded with basic provisions, including sugar, rice and flour will enter Gaza. Five of the trucks will be carrying goods donated by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's wife Suzanne.
Wheat will be transferred into the Strip through the Karni crossing, and fuel trucks will enter through the Erez crossing.
'Attack on Erez not coincidental'
A security official said that despite Hamas' conduct "we must keep mind that there are segments of the Palestinian population in Gaza which do not support terror, and we cannot neglect them.
"The hardships of the civilians may not matter much to Hamas, but we will make every effort to prevent a humanitarian crisis," he said.
According to Brig.-Gen (Res.) Bezalel Treiber, head of the Crossings Directorate in the Defense Ministry, Israel has various intelligence indicating that terror groups intend on targeting the crossings located along the border with Gaza. A mortar shell fired from the Strip on Thursday hit the Erez crossing, but caused no injuries.
"Today's attack on Erez was not coincidental," he said.
Also on Thursday, Tzipi Livni met with Mubarak in Cairo to discuss the developments in Gaza. Upon her return the foreign minister said "Israel cannot accept the situation in the Strip and must protect its citizens.
"Israel wants to live in peace with its neighbors, but we cannot accept the fact that an extremist terror organization is trying to dictate our domestic situation while seeking better terms for a ceasefire that it has violated," she said. "Israel will not be able to restrain itself for much longer.