Officials said the military, under direction of the Defense Ministry,
would end operations at the Karni border terminal along the Gaza Strip. They
said Karni has come under heavy missile, mortar and rocket fire in 2011
believed directed by Hamas.
"Hamas and other terrorist organizations carry out diverse terrorist
activities in the area and it became difficult not only to secure the
crossing but also to enable the local Israeli civilian population to live
peacefully," Dangot told a briefing on March 9.
So far this year, Israel has reported the firing of nearly 100 missiles,
mortar and rocket launches from the Gaza Strip. More than a third of the
attacks took place near Karni, which received hundreds of trucks per day.
Over the last eight months, Israel has dropped most import restrictions
on the Gaza Strip, imposed when Hamas captured the area in 2007. Officals
said traffic that had been assigned to Karni would be transferred to the
Keren Shalom crossing, along the border with Egypt and Israel.
Officials said Keren Shalom, as part of a $28 million project, would be
expanded to handle additional cargo. They said the military expected 450
trucks to arrive at the crossing per day, a nearly four-fold increase from
But Dangot said Hamas and other Palestinian gunners were also targeting
Keren Shalom. He did not say whether the missile and mortar strikes would
affect operations or expansion plans.
"Recently, even at the Kerem Shalom Crossing we are seeing attacks,"
Dangot said. "Some of the rockets land in central regions of the crossing."
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon warned that the regime changes in
the Middle East was intensifying the smuggling of weapons and fighters to the
Gaza Strip. Ayalon warned of the prospect that Hamas missiles, enhanced by
Iran, would land in the Tel Aviv area.
"Unfortunately, you and your families living in the center of the
country also understand the this is a very real threat," Ayalon told foreign
diplomats on March 10. "The range of the rockets reaches all of us and
already today thousands of rockets are stored in the Gaza Strip that
threaten the population in Israel. The continuation of the smuggling will
interfere with Israel's ability to ease restrictions for Gaza residents."