The Jordan Times
August 12, 2008 - 4:27pm

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said it would shut its border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in response to a rocket attack that further strained a ceasefire between the Jewish state and Gaza fighters.

The rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Monday struck near the centre of Sderot, a town in southern Israel often targeted by militants, causing no damage or injuries, Israeli police said.

Israel’s defence ministry said in a statement later crossings between Israel and the Hamas-controlled territory would be closed on Tuesday in response to the attack.

No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for firing the rocket.

Such attacks have become rare since an Egyptian-brokered truce with Hamas fighters in Gaza took effect in June but Israel has closed the crossings twice since then after similar cross-border attacks by militants.

Raed Fattouh, a Palestinian official who coordinates the delivery of supplies into the coastal enclave, said he was notified by Israeli authorities that no goods would enter Gaza on Tuesday because of the attack.

Israel sharply cut the supply of goods into the Gaza Strip a year ago after Hamas seized the territory from forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas’ more secular Fateh faction.

New settlement

Israel has proposed building a new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem, a spokesman for the main settlers organisation said on Monday.

The defence ministry, which oversees the issue, made no comment on a move that would be seen by Palestinians and by Israel’s US and European allies as a breach of commitments to halt settlement activity on land Palestinians want for a state.

The Palestinians have already accused Israel of bad faith during the nine-month-old, US-sponsored Annapolis peace process for approving the expansion of other settlements, mostly near Jerusalem, and for last month giving the go-ahead for an entirely new settlement in the Jordan Valley.

The settlers said officials made the new proposal as part of a deal to push them to quit a settlement outpost - a hilltop collection of trailers that is home to more than 40 families and that was established without Israeli government authorisation.

Ishai Hollander, spokesman for the settlers’ YESHA council, confirmed a report in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper that defence officials had proposed moving several families from Migron, the unauthorised enclave, to another West Bank site.

Hollander told Reuters the settler council would meet this week to discuss “a proposal put by the Defence Ministry... to build a permanent settlement of Migron nearby” to the current site, on a hill near the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

Some half a million Israelis live among 2.5 million Palestinians in West Bank settlements ruled illegal by the World Court. Migron is one of the biggest of dozens of outposts that Israel itself considers unlawful.

Any new settlement would have to win Israeli Cabinet approval. Israel has not built any new enclaves for years though it continues to expand existing settlements it says it wants to keep under any peace deal, despite international protests.


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