Israel seals Gaza crossings after rocket attack

by Kal El on July 1, 2008 · View Comments

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Hamas of course denies rockets were launched. I guess that means the rockets are firing themselves from within Israel.

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Palestinian militants on Tuesday that Israel would respond with force if attacks from the Gaza Strip persist in defiance of a recent truce.

Earlier in the day, Israel once again closed its cargo crossings, accusing Palestinian militants of firing a rocket at southern Israel in violation of a shaky truce.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers denied a rocket was fired on Monday evening, and accused Israel of looking for excuses to shirk its commitment under the cease-fire agreement to ease its blockade of impoverished Gaza.

Militants have attacked Israel at least three times since the June 19 truce. Israel has responded by closing its cargo crossings with Gaza, but has not responded militarily.

Olmert said that Israel’s restraint should not be misinterpreted as weakness.

“We are in favor of a genuine calm,” he said while on a tour of southern Israel. “If it prevails, fine. If it doesn’t, we know how to respond with full force, and in a manner that will guarantee complete security to the residents of the south.”

The Israeli military said its radar detected a rocket launched from Gaza that struck near the communal farm of Mefalsim. But it said actual rocket fragments were not located.

“The closing of the border today is unjustified and another indication that the Israeli occupation is maneuvering and trying to dodge the conditions of the calm understanding,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

And Gaza’s Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accused Israel of “backtracking on the calm.”

Abu Zuhri also accused the military on Tuesday of shooting a 65-year-old Palestinian woman who lives near Israel-Gaza border in what he called “a grave violation of the calm understanding.”

The military denied involvement.

Israel has taken a zero-tolerance approach to any violation of the cease-fire. Since the truce went into effect on June 19, the crossings have been closed for five days because of rocket and mortar attacks.

So closing a border crossing after repeated Palestinian rockets being launched AFTER a truce has been agreed to by Israel is illegal, but continued rocket launches is okay.

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