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Israel closes Gaza border after rocket fire

April 8, 2013 9:49 A.M. (Updated: April 9, 2013 9:56 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel sealed its border with the Gaza Strip on Monday after militants fired a rocket into the Negev desert on Sunday evening.

Israel closed the Kerem Shalom goods crossing because of rocket fire, Palestinian border official Raed Fattouh told Ma'an.

A Ma'an reporter said the Erez passenger terminal was also closed Monday.

A rocket fired from Gaza crashed into southern Israel on Sunday, without causing casualties or damage, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP the rocket landed in an uninhabited sector of the Negev desert.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned on Wednesday that his country would respond to any attacks on its territory and not allow its people to come under fire.

MP Jamal al-Khodri condemned the border closure as an attempt to tighten the siege and collapse the Palestinian economy.

Rights groups have criticized Israeli restrictions on civilian travel and goods transfer in response to rocket fire as collective punishment.

After Israel closed the Gaza border in March following rocket fire, Gisha, an Israeli organization that campaigns for Palestinian freedom of movement, wrote to the defense minister.

"In the last month, there appears to be a new policy toward the Gaza Strip, in which Israel is openly restricting civilian movement to and from Gaza, not because of a concrete security necessity, but rather as a punitive step taken against the civilian population in direct response to fire by combatants," wrote Gisha director Sari Bashi.

The Gaza-Israel border has been largely quiet since November when an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ended a deadly eight-day confrontation between Israel and Hamas.

But since late February, there have been four other cases of rocket fire on Israel, three of which were claimed by Salafist militants.

AFP contributed to this report.

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