Despite Overnight Rockets, Israel Reopens Gaza Crossings

YERUSHALAYIM -
gaza border
Palestinian trucks entering Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israeli forces hit several Hamas targets overnight Motzoei Shabbos, after Gaza Arab terrorists fired five rockets at Israel. Red Alert sirens sounded in several communities in the Gaza border area in the early hours of Sunday. Residents of Netivot and Ofakim reported that Iron Dome missiles destroyed the rockets in air. Several other rockets fell in open areas. No injuries or damage were reported in the attacks.

Those attacks came after a day in which the IDF said that Hamas had kept large mobs from rushing the border fence, and as talk of a substantial ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was in the air. Despite the overnight attacks, Israel for the first time in several weeks authorized on Sunday the opening of the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings, enabling hundreds of trucks with supplies to pass from Israel into Gaza.

While the IDF said that rioting during the day had been controlled, things changed later Motzoei Shabbos, with mobs attempting to storm the border fence. IDF forces responded with anti-riot measures. Gaza sources reported that four rioters were killed.

Some 40,000 Gaza Arabs rioted along the security fence on Shabbos, but the IDF termed the situation “manageable,” as Hamas terrorist commandos kept rioters away from the fence itself. The “orderly” riot was a prelude to an official agreement that will be signed with Israel in the coming days, Hamas said. Hamas had prepared for a major riot, marking the first anniversary of Hamas’ “marches of return,” the weekly rioting at the Gaza border, as well as Land Day, another event that generates a great deal of unrest in Gaza and among Arabs in Yehudah and Shomron. The IDF deployed large numbers of soldiers, tanks and armored vehicles at the border.

IDF spokesperson Ronen Manulis said that “the dialogue the IDF had with sources in Gaza, including the Egyptians, enabled things to proceed in an intelligent manner on Shabbos. It appears that there was only one spot on the fence that Palestinians breached, and they immediately returned to Gaza. This has been happening every Friday for the past year. We can say that Land Day ended successfully, but we have other challenges in the near future,” he said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Motzoei Shabbos ordered the increased IDF forces to remain in place at the Gaza border. “We don’t know if the calmer situation will continue to prevail. We are prepared for all developments. This is the way we operate – we activate the force that we need to, while avoiding, where possible, unnecessary wars.”

Reports that Egyptian negotiators had hammered together a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas continued Sunday. The Al-Quds newspaper in Ramallah said that Israel had, in the context of the deal, agreed to allow Gaza fishermen a range of 15 kilometers from the shore, more than double the amount of sea they can now traverse. The Gaza terror groups have agreed to end the nightly rioting and setting off of explosives in the border area, designed to disturb the sleep of Israelis living in the border area.