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Israel closes Gaza crossings after rocket attack - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Israeli medics and police gather near an ambulance at Ben Gurion Airport on June 24, 2008, following a security alert when a shot was fired in an apparent suicide by an Israeli policeman (AFP)

Israeli medics and police gather near an ambulance at Ben Gurion Airport on June 24, 2008, following a security alert when a shot was fired in an apparent suicide by an Israeli policeman (AFP)

GAZA, (Reuters) – Israel closed its border crossings with the Gaza Strip for an indefinite period on Wednesday, calling the move a response to a Palestinian rocket salvo that breached an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

The crossings were to have opened at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) to allow for imports, increased in scale under the truce, to reach the impoverished territory. But Israeli military liaison official Peter Lerner said they would stay closed until further notice. “Any reopening will be in accordance with security considerations,” he told Reuters.

On Tuesday, Islamic Jihad militants fired several rockets into southern Israel, breaching a five-day-old Gaza truce in what they called retaliation for the Israeli army’s killing of one of their commanders in the occupied West Bank.

The ceasefire deal does not cover the West Bank.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers, accused Israel of bad faith in closing the crossings, where restrictions were tightened a year ago after the Islamist group took over the territory.

“The closure by the occupation is a violation of the deal for calm in Gaza,” Abu Zuhri said, referring to Israel.

Further stoking tension, Islamic Jihad threatened more attacks on Wednesday for what it called a shooting by Israeli troops of a Palestinian farmer as he worked his field in the village of Khuza, near the Gaza border.

Palestinian medical officials said the man was wounded in the leg but there was no independent confirmation that he had been shot by Israeli forces. In Tel Aviv, an Israeli military spokeswoman said she had no knowledge of any such incident. “We will respond to every Zionist violation at the suitable time,” Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Hamza said.

After the rockets on Tuesday, Hamas urged smaller Palestinian factions to hold their fire and said it wanted the ceasefire preserved.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (C) is rushed by security officers towards his vehicle at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv June 24, 2008 (REUTERS)

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (C) is rushed by security officers towards his vehicle at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv June 24, 2008 (REUTERS)

Palestinian Hamas National Security Forces deploy near the Karni crossing, between the Gaza Strip and Israel, on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, on June 24, 2008 to maintain the security at the main commercial crossing point (AFP)

Palestinian Hamas National Security Forces deploy near the Karni crossing, between the Gaza Strip and Israel, on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, on June 24, 2008 to maintain the security at the main commercial crossing point (AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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