Israel Transfers Aid to Gaza

Ad Feedback - GAZA STRIP - Despite ongoing rocket and mortar shell attacks on southern Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak opened the Kerem Shalom and Sufa border crossings Friday to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Ninety trucks began transporting food, fuel, medicine and other supplies to Gaza Friday morning.

The delivery, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was cancelled when Palestinians pounded Israel with more than 80 Kassam rockets, mortar shells and Grad-type Katyusha rockets.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Lt.-General Gabi Ashkenazi said the nation's military would use its "full force" against the rocket attacks.

"This reality cannot be allowed to continue, and we will need to use our full force to hit the terrorist infrastructure and create a new security reality around the Gaza Strip," Ashkenazi said.

More than 25 mortar shells pounded southern Israel overnight Thursday.

One shell damaged a building in the Eshkol Regional Council and shattered the windows of two nearby homes.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo.

Gheit told Livni that Egypt wasn't responsible for the weapons buildup in the Gaza Strip and didn't know how Hamas acquired long-range missiles.

While it's common knowledge that Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza smuggle weaponry through the tunnels under the Rafah border crossing with the Sinai, it's rarely mentioned that some of the weaponry transported to the Sinai first arrived in Egyptian ports.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials believe the escalation in rocket attacks is linked to PA President Mahmoud Abbas's end of term in office on January 9.

"Hamas is getting ready for a power struggle with Fatah," one Israeli official said.

"It is in Hamas's interest to enter this power struggle in the middle of a conflict with Israel since this way it receives the support and sympathy of the Palestinian public," he said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news

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