( dpa ) - Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that Israel would keep up its intensified economic sanctions against the Gaza Strip, even though they prompted tens of thousands of Palestinians to breach the border with Egypt.
"If in order for it to be quiet in Sderot, it (conditions) has to be very difficult in Gaza, then it will be very difficult in Gaza," Barak told Israel's Channel 10 television from Paris.
He was referring to the Israeli town just north-east of the Strip that has born the brunt of daily rocket attacks from Gaza.
"The sanctions will continue, are continuing and being intensified," he said.
He also criticized Egypt for allowing tens of thousands of Gazans to pass through holes blown into the border wall and march to the coastal city of al-Arish to stock up on scarce supplies.
But, although television footage showed the Egyptian side of the divided border town of Rafah and the road leading to al-Arish and the streets of the town itself filled with Gazans, he played down the number of Palestinians who had passed into Egypt.
"I think the Egyptians know what their task is and we expect them to fulfil it according to the agreements," he said.
"I don't think 350,000 (Palestinians) passed through, but a much smaller number."