Israel reopens Gaza border crossings

12SADASD6.jpgJERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel reopened its border crossings with Gaza on Wednesday and was expected to let in supplies of cement for the first time in a year, an Israeli official and a Palestinian official in the territory said.

The reopening of the commercial border crossings allowing goods into the largely blockaded territory comes a day after Israel closed them in what it called a response to a rocket attack on Monday that further strained a ceasefire.

Israeli official Peter Lerner said the commercial goods crossings of Karni and Sufa and the fuel depot at Nahal Oz were reopened on Wednesday morning, after a day of calm on Tuesday.

“We opened the crossing after there were no rocket firings on Tuesday and we hope it will remain this way,” Lerner said.

He added that for the first time in a year shipments of cement would be allowed into the Gaza Strip and said that humanitarian supplies and shipments of grain and of fuel would resume.

The Gaza official, Raed Fattouh, confirmed that the crossings of Karni and Sufa the fuel depot at Nahal Oz were reopened and were operating on Wednesday morning.

Israel cut back sharply on the supply of goods into the Gaza Strip a year ago, after Hamas seized the territory from forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas’s more secular Fatah faction.

Israel previously shut the crossings for a few days on June 25 after Islamic Jihad launched a cross-border rocket attack which the militant group said was a response to the killing by Israeli forces of one of its leaders in the occupied West Bank.

The West Bank is not covered by the ceasefire, but Islamic Jihad had put Israel on notice that it might react violently to raids in the territory. Israel says its military operations in the West Bank help to prevent attacks on Israelis.

Other Gaza militants have also fired a rocket and two mortar bombs since the truce took effect. U.N. sources said last week Israeli forces opened fire in the Gaza Strip at least eight times, wounding two people, after the ceasefire began.

Along its border with the Gaza Strip, Egypt opened the Rafah crossing on Tuesday for three days for the limited passage of people, such as Palestinians stranded in Egypt and Gazans seeking medical treatment abroad.

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