Israel opens border crossings to Gaza despite ongoing rocket attacks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is allowing for Egyptian mediation to calm the situation.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel reopened border crossings to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, to improve financial and humanitarian conditions for Palestinians, despite continuing rocket fire from Gaza into the Jewish State overnight. The Israeli military said that the rockets landed in open areas and that no casualties were reported.

Around midnight, the IDF announced that five rockets had been fired from the Strip into Israeli territory. During the early morning hours, the military announced that in response to the rocket attacks, Israeli tanks fired at “a number of positions of the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.”

On Sunday morning, Israeli authorities said that it remained unclear which terror group was responsible for the rocket fire. However, Israel has repeatedly said that it holds Hamas responsible because it has controlled Gaza since overthrowing the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

The two Gaza crossings at Kerem Shalom and Erez were closed by Israel last Monday when a Gaza rocket destroyed a house in central Israel.

Israeli officials say that the crossings to Gaza were opened in response to a positive step taken by Hamas in calming what could have been even more serious protests over the weekend near the Israeli border. Actions by Hamas and Israel to work against escalating the violence are taking place against the backdrop of reported Egyptian mediation efforts to put in place a temporary cessation of violence.

The Erez crossing serves pedestrians and the Kerem Shalom terminal is for commerce. Israel also announced that it was softening restrictions on what can be transferred through the border. Israel has been barring the entry to Gaza of materials which could potentially be used for terror attacks.

Israeli Cabinet minister Yoav Galant, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said that while Israel had to prevent attacks on Israeli children, it also had to “keep in mind that an improved humanitarian situation in Gaza is in Israel’s best interests.”

The reopening of the crossings just hours after rockets hit southern Israel comes as Israeli residents near the border complain that the Israeli military’s response to bombardments into their localities is softer in comparison to those when rockets fall on Tel Aviv and central Israel.

New Right party leader and Cabinet minister Naftali Bennett complained that “Israel’s weakness results in chutzpah by Hamas.”

He called on the prime minister to convene the Security Cabinet immediately to change “the rules of the game.” Instead, Netanyahu canceled a scheduled Wednesday Security Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu has been seen as reluctant to convene the Security Cabinet to avoid electioneering by his ministers.

Netanyahu’s policy was also criticized by Avigdor Liberman, who resigned as defense minister in November complaining that the prime minister was too soft in his response to Hamas attacks.

On April 9, Israelis go to the polls to vote for the next parliament.