Hours after President Shimon Peres warned Hamas it is shooting itself in the foot by attacking Israel, the IDF ordered a halt in freight through the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Southern District Commander Tal Russo ordered the halt following massive missile and mortar shell fire on Israeli communities in the south, with more than 150 missiles smacking into rural and urban areas in the past week.
He said re-opening the crossing, where fuel and other goods and merchandise are shipped from Israel, will be conditioned on better security and a cessation of rocket fire.
Gaza-based terrorists fired three Kassam rockets on the Western Negev Sunday afternoon, and no further violence was reported as of Monday morning, indicating that Hamas has completed the latest round of attacks.
President Peres told a Jewish Agency conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, “[Hamas] must understand that when they attack Israel, they are attacking residents of Gaza. Every missile that hits Israel will hurt you more than anyone.”
Southern Israel has been under constant rocket fire since Israel expelled all Jews from the Gaza region in 2005 and ordered the total withdrawal of all soldiers, based on the theory that Hamas would cease deadly terrorist attacks. Instead, it widened its target area and attacked as far east as Be’er Sheva and as far north as Yavne, on the southern edge of metropolitan Tel Aviv.
Ashkelon city councilman Shimon Cohen wrote Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak Sunday night, “In the name of the residents of Ashkelon and the south, I urge you to bomb the terrorist tunnels that are filled with weapons, to immediately stop the shipments of cement to Gaza, and to cut off electricity and water in the neighborhoods where missiles are launched.
“This situation is totally impossible, whereby a sovereign country allows a dangerous situation to exist that threatens the lives of its citizens without a reasonable reaction over a period of several years.”
Hamas has pummeled southern Israelwith more than 13,000 rockets and mortar shells since the outbreak of the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War, which began in 2000. Israel and Hamas have been engaged in continuing battles, interspersed by periods of relative calm.