Israel reopens Gaza crossings closed for days after rocket strike

A member of the Palestinian Authority security forces waves forth a truck carrying goods at the Kerem Shalom border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov 7, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel reopened its crossings with the Gaza Strip on Sunday (March 31) after having kept them closed for nearly a week following a rare long-distance rocket strike from the Palestinian enclave, an official said.

The Erez crossing for people and the Kerem Shalom crossing for goods reopened on Sunday morning, a spokesman for COGAT, the defence ministry unit that oversees the crossings, told AFP.

They were closed last Monday after the rocket fire that wounded seven Israelis and led to Israeli retaliatory strikes.

The reopening comes after tens of thousands of Palestinians protested along the Gaza border with Israel on Saturday, to mark the one-year anniversary since demonstrations and clashes erupted there.

Four Palestinians were killed on Saturday during protests and clashes, but unrest was limited and fears of mass bloodshed were averted after Egyptian-led negotiations.

Five rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel overnight, leading Israeli tanks to fire on Hamas military posts. No casualties were reported from either the rockets or tank fire.

Hamas officials say an understanding was reached that would see Israel ease its crippling blockade of Gaza in exchange for the protests remaining calm.

Israel, which has fought three wars with Hamas since 2008, has not commented on the claims of an agreement.

Israel goes to the polls in a keenly contested general election on April 9 in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a stiff challenge from centrist former military chief Benny Gantz.

He is widely seen as wanting to avoid a major escalation before the polls, but has faced accusations from political opponents of being soft on Hamas.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.