Gaza Tensions Mount After Suicide Bombing

By Ha’aretz

Published February 06, 2008, issue of February 08, 2008.

The conflict in Gaza heated up again Tuesday in response to a suicide bombing in the Israeli town of Dimona on Monday.

Israel killed nine Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip, while Palestinians fired heavy barrages of rockets at southern Israel that moderately wounded a 14-year-old girl and lightly wounded several other civilians.

Tuesday’s rocket barrages were the heaviest since Hamas breached the border with Egypt two weeks ago. The Israel Defense Forces believes that should the escalation continue, a large-scale ground operation in Gaza will become more likely.

Egypt warned Hamas Tuesday against causing any further provocations on the Gaza border, one day after clashes between Palestinians and Egyptian border police erupted.

“It is important that the Hamas leadership in Gaza adopts wisdom so as to discourage Palestinian masses from going close to the border with Egypt,” the country’s foreign minister, Ahmed Abul-Gheit, said.

Hamas militants blew holes in the border on January 23, allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to circumvent a tight Israeli blockade and stock up on supplies in Egypt.

The border remained breached for almost 12 days, and Israel fears Palestinian militants exploited the opportunity to infiltrate its own territory via Egypt.

The Dimona suicide bomber does not appear to have come through Egypt. Hamas on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it was carried out by two operatives from Hebron.



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