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Attacks on W. Negev Continue, Gaza Crossings Closed

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the Gaza crossings closed until further notice in retaliation for the attacks on southern Israel.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 11/6/2008, 11:37 AM

Israel News Photo: (Flash 90)

Palestinian Authority terrorists in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at the western Negev city of Sderot Thursday morning in a continuation of a spate of attacks on southern Israel. The missile exploded in the cemetery on the outskirts of the city. No one was injured and there were no reports of damage.

The Color Red incoming missile alert system was activated in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon a couple of hours later, but no explosion followed. Sources said a Kassam rocket may have landed in an open field near the city, but did not explode.

At least 52 Kassam rockets and 16 mortar shells have been fired at southern Israeli civilian communities so far this week.

IDF Prepared for All Scenarios
The IDF Spokesperson's office said in a statement that Tuesday's operation to destroy a kidnapper's tunnel in Gaza was a "pinpoint operation intended to prevent an immediate threat," and added there was "no intention to disrupt the ceasefire."

"The building of the tunnel, located adjacent to the security fence, and intended for the abduction of Israeli soldiers, is a blatant violation of the ceasefire," read the statement. However, warned the army spokesman, "The IDF is prepared for any attempt to disturb the stability of the area."

Six mortar shells were fired Tuesday night, at around the same time that IDF forces were engaged in destroying the tunnel.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the Gaza crossing closed until further notice, in light of the ongoing attacks that have resumed from the region.

Amos Gilad: 'IDF Tunnel Attack Was Worth It'
The attack on the kidnappers' tunnel constituted the first time that Israeli forces have carried out an operation in the region since the start of the temporary truce, or tahadiyeh, on June 19. 

Amos Gilad, diplomatic-military bureau chief for the Defense Ministry, maintained Wednesday in an interview on Voice of Israel government radio that the ceasefire still remained in effect.

Gaza terrorists violated the ceasefire dozens of times since its inception, usually by launching one or two rockets at a time, but nonetheless largely adhered to it.

I don't believe this marks the end of the truce," said Gilad, who noted that Hamas still has a vested interest in maintaining a ceasefire.

Regardless, he said, Israel's decision Tuesday to enter Gaza and destroy the kidnappers' tunnel that had been prepared for what intelligence sources indicated was an imminent attack was valid.

IDF soldier Gilad Shalit has remained a captive in Gaza since he was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists with the aid of a similar tunnel on June 25, 2006.

The tunnel, Gilad said, constituted a "totally unreasonable risk" – not to mention a complete violation of the terms of the ceasefire agreement – and was "worth making every effort to thwart it."