Militants fire rockets on Israel after first truce fatality

Palestinian militants fired two rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel's southern Negev desert on Thursday, a spokesman for the Israeli army said, reported dpa.

They were launched hours after Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian who crossed the border into Israel, the first fatality since a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the enclave took effect some three weeks ago.

The launchings, which caused no injuries or damage, brought to at least 10 the number of rockets fired from the Strip despite the Egyptian-brokered truce, Israel Radio reported. Palestinian militants have also launched at least four mortars on Israel over in the same period.

Palestinian medical officials and the Israeli army confirmed the shooting of a Palestinian in his 20s near the southern Gaza Strip border crossing of Kissufim.

An Israeli army spokesman said the man had crossed into Israel while failing to heed warnings from Israeli soldiers to stop. The soldiers opened fire and killed him.

No weapons were found near the body, the spokesman said. Reports in Gaza City quoted the victim's family saying he had mental problems.

As part of the fragile truce, Israel meanwhile allowed the first raw materials into the Strip in more than a year. The gradual easing of its tight economic blockade of the salient is part of the ceasefire agreement.

Since the ceasefire came into effect on June 19, there have been a number of incidents in which Israeli troops have fired on Palestinians who entered a "no-go" security zone near the border fence, which have resulted in the injury of at least three Palestinian farmers.

The Islamic Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, has charged the shootings are a violation of the truce agreement.

The Israeli army spokesman said the shooting Thursday followed several attacks on Israeli troops in that area, including an attempt by militant Palestinians to plant a roadside bomb near Kissufim.

On Wednesday night undercover Israeli commandos shot dead a suspected Palestinian militant in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The commandos opened fire when the suspect resisted arrest.

An Israeli military spokewoman identified the fatality as Talal Saed Halal Abed, 32, of the Hamas movement, and alleged he belonged to a local militant squad from a village near Jenin that was planning a suicide bombing in Israel.

Israel further eased its ban on the entry of secondary goods into Gaza Thursday, including iron for the construction industry, the general administration of the crossings said.

The number of trucks Israel allowed into Gaza has exceeded 100 for the first time since the ceasefire took effect, according to the administration.

However, fuel supplies, especially gasoline, were still being rationed, with the transport crisis in Gaza continuing. Israel imposed an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip after the Hamas takeover June 2007, allowing only humanitarian supplies.

Since the ceasefire, Israel has gradually increased the volume of supplies, closing crossing points only for several days in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian factions which reject Hamas-Israel ceasefire.

Two Palestinians were killed Thursday when an underground tunnel dug for smuggling goods collapsed on them in the southern Gaza Strip, medical officials said.

Paramedics said they removed the bodies from the tunnel, which leads under the Gaza-Egypt border, to the east of the Rafah crossing. That crossing has been closed as part of economic sanctions on the Strip.

Hundreds of tunnels are estimated to have been dug under the Gaza-Egypt border, with the number having increased after Israel sealed off commercial crossing points. The tunnels are used to smuggle food, fuel and other goods, such as cigarettes. They are also used to smuggle weapons for armed Palestinian groups. dpa sar bve wjh ok jab

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