Israel reopens 3 border crossings

GAZA - Israel reopened three of its border crossings with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip yesterday following a halt to Palestinian cross-border shelling attacks that had strained an Egyptian-brokered truce, officials said.

An Israeli military spokesman said Sufa commercial crossing, the Nahal Oz fuel-transfer deport and the Erez border terminal for travellers resumed operations at 8am, with some restrictions still in force. Another commercial crossing, Karni, remained closed.

Peter Lerner, an Israeli defence official, cited a "policy decision" for the continued closure but did not elaborate. Israel shut the crossings on Wednesday after an Islamic Jihad rocket salvo which the Palestinian faction called retaliation for Israel's killing of one of its West Bank chiefs.

Other Gazan militants fired a rocket and two mortar bombs in two separate incidents. There were no Israeli casualties.

The truce, which began on June 19, calls for Hamas to stop cross-border rocket fire and for Israel to gradually ease its embargo on Gaza. It does not apply to the West Bank. Hamas, which has stuck to the truce, called last week for smaller Palestinian factions to abide by the cease fire and said it would take "necessary measures" against violators.

Yesterday, the ruling Islamist faction accused Israel of foot-dragging on its side of the deal. "Movement across the commercial crossings is still very slow and there has been no change at all," Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Lerner said that 80 truckloads of goods would be allowed across Sufa, up from the daily average of around 60 trucks before the truce took hold. - Reuters