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Israeli tanks, bulldozers invade southern Gaza; blockade resumes

Nov. 18, 2008 9:05 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 18, 2008 9:05 A.M.)
Gaza/Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded the southern end of the Gaza Strip, near the city of Rafah at 9am on Tuesday and began razing agricultural lands.

Three tanks and two bulldozers breached the Gaza border and went 50-100 meters into the An-Nahdah neighborhood east of Rafah, just meters away from the ruins of Gaza International Airport. Bulldozers remained in the area at press time.

The Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military branch, reported launching a projectile at the military vehicles as they rolled across the border.

Separately, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades , said it spotted, then exchanged fire with undercover Israeli forces at the northern end of the Gaza Strip, in the Al-Bura neighborhood of Beit Hanoun.

The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades urged all armed factions in Gaza to reconsider the five-month old ceasefire in light of the Israeli attacks.

Blockade

Early Tuesday morning Israeli officials announced that Gaza crossings would remain closed and cited the continuation of projectile launches from Gaza at Israeli targets as the reason for the closure according to Israel Radio.

On Monday Karem Shalom crossing was opened to allow a token amount of aid into the Strip, which UN officials estimated would last "a few days." The border officials are not allowing any fuel or journalists into the area, creating both a media and general electricity blackout over most of the Strip.

Monday also saw the launch of four homemade projectiles by Palestinian military groups. No casualties have been reported.

Israeli military sources asserted that crossing points would remain closed as long as shells from Gaza continue to land in Israeli areas.

The international community has condemned the Israeli decision to close-down the Gaza Strip, and the move has been called an egregious example of collective punishment.

***Updated 13:10 Bethlehem time

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