Train service to Sderot suspended for fear of anti-tank fire from Gaza
Defense Ministry orders Israel Railways to shut down Ashkelon-Sderot line until the company fortifies its trains.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's declared aim for Operation Protective Edge was to achieve a sustainable quiet in the south. But the residents of southern Israel will not enjoy one day of peace.



The security establishment is concerned that terror organizations will target trains servicing Sderot with anti-tank missiles and has ordered the train line suspended until further notice.


Israel Railways announced that train service between Ashkelon and Sderot would be suspended for fear of an attack on trains in parts near the border with the Strip.


The decision to shut down the line until further notice differs from previous such directives – not only because it was announced during a ceasefire – but because the Defense Ministry directed the company to fortify the line against anti-tank fire.


Sderot-Ashkelon railway (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)
Sderot-Ashkelon railway (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)


Because of the line's suspension, train passengers would disembark the train in Ashkelon and be transported by bus to Sderot.


For the third time in two weeks, the Israeli public and Gaza-border residents wait with bated breath for the end of the ceasefire – while no government official has provided any answer for what the future holds.


At the end of the first temporary truce Gaza militants launched a heavy barrage of rockets. At the end of the second ceasefire rockets were fired on Israel before midnight.


Now southern residents have to wait 24 more hours to discover how the current ceasefire ends. This time, however, sources in Jerusalem, in Gaza, and in Cairo have not expressed any optimism on the signing of an agreement.


Israel has started preparing for the possibility that the talks in Cairo end without a resolution. The government set the ground for a "calm for calm" de-facto agreement by granting an initial measure of relief – allowing Gaza fishermen to set sail up to three miles from the shore.


On the other hand, Israel is also preparing for the possibility that hostilities resume. "As of now, we are not facing an agreement," noted an Israeli source Sunday. "As it seems now, it's unclear how we can reach an agreement. We are preparing for every possibility, including a military option."


A member of the Palestinian delegation told The Associated Press on Sunday that the gaps between the sides were still significant and that it was far from certain whether a deal could be reached before the cease-fire expires.


"We are less optimistic than we were earlier," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the talks with the media.


Bassam al-Salahi, another member of the Palestinian delegation, had initially expressed hope of a breakthrough in the talks, but on Sunday he also noted no breakthrough was forthcoming.


He claimed Israel again raised the matter of demilitarizing the Strip and that it was attempting to create a new mechanism to maintain the blockade on Gaza.


According to AFP, Egypt proposed a new round of talks next month – apparently after Cairo understood no agreement would be signed in the coming days. Al-Salahi added that the matter of extending the ceasefire had not yet been raised, but said the possibility would be considered on Monday.


Attila Somfalvi, Ilana Curiel, Roi Kais, and Itay Blumenthal contributed to this report.


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