Hamas: Closing crossings breaks truce

Group says it won't act as Israel's "police force" in confronting rocket launch squads in Gaza Strip.

Karni closed 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Karni closed 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The IDF on Wednesday closed Gaza's cargo crossings in response to the previous day's Kassam rocket attacks that violated the truce between Israel and Gaza terrorists. The IDF said all crossings had been closed except for the Erez pedestrian terminal. The truce began six days ago, and on Sunday, Israel began incrementally increasing the amount of goods entering Gaza. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Wednesday's closure violated the cease-fire and another Hamas spokesman, Taher Nunu, called on Egypt, which mediated the truce, to intervene. "We will not accept leaving our people hostages to this policy," said Nunu. Islamic Jihad took responsibility for firing three rockets into Israel on Tuesday, lightly wounding two people. Israel called the fire a "gross violation" of the truce. Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya said Wednesday that while Hamas remained committed to the cease-fire, it would not act as Israel's "police force" in confronting terrorists who breech the truce. He said Hamas was exerting pressure on Islamic Jihad to stop the rocket fire, but stressed that Hamas would not confront rocket launching squads on the ground. "Even if there is a violation by some factions, Hamas emphasizes its commitment to the calm and is working to implement the calm," al-Haya said. "But Hamas is not going to be a police securing the border of the occupation," he added. "No one will enjoy a happy moment seeing Hamas holding a rifle in the face of a resistance fighter." Islamic Jihad said Tuesday's rocket attack was a response to an IDF raid on the West Bank that killed an Islamic Jihad commander, even though the West Bank is not included in the truce. The group had said Tuesday after a meeting with Hamas that the rockets were an "exceptional" response to the West Bank fighting, suggesting that they would abstain from further rocket fire. Also Wednesday, an elderly man was moderately wounded when he was shot along Gaza's border with Israel, Palestinian doctors said. The man, 81, was walking east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza when he was shot in the arm and hand. His family and Hamas accused the IDF of shooting the man, but the army said it wasn't aware of any such incident. Meanwhile, Al-Kabas reported that Israel had assured Egypt that it would refrain from responding militarily to Tuesday's Kassam attacks. The Kuwaiti newspaper quoted "well informed" Egyptian sources as saying that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the guarantee to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during their meeting in Sharm e-Sheikh Tuesday. Olmert reportedly said that Israel would not carry out any "aggression" in the event that one of the Palestinian factions violates the terms of the truce. In contrast to al-Haya's statement, the paper also said that Hamas had indeed made a commitment to punish factions that break the cease-fire to make sure all Gaza groups implement the truce. The sources were also quoted as saying that due to Israeli concerns that Iran was influencing Hamas's decisions, Egypt gave Israel guarantees that it, and not Hamas, was responsible for making sure Hamas abides by the truce. Nevertheless, also according to the sources, Egypt was attempting to raise the number of Palestinians freed in a swap deal for captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit from 450 to 600.