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Israel Opens Gaza Crossings, Easing Tensions

Israeli Defense Minister Barak warned against further attacks.
(RFE/RL) -- Israel has reopened border crossings with the Gaza Strip to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the decision to open the border crossings was made after talks with security officials and calls by the international community.

On December 25, Barak warned against attacks on Israel. "Anyone who hurts Israeli citizens and army soldiers will pay the price, big time," he said.

Dozens of rockets have been launched from Gaza in recent days, after a six-month cease-fire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas ended.

It remains unclear for how long the Gaza crossings will remain open.

Raed Fattouh, coordinator of supplies for Gaza, said about 90 trucks loaded with grain, humanitarian aid, and goods for the private sector were due to come into Gaza during the day.

UN officials have warned that the Hamas-controlled territory is facing a humanitarian catastrophe. The UN warehouses there are now empty, while the vast majority of Gazans are dependent on food aid.

On December 25, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he would not hesitate to strike Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza. Olmert told the Arabic-language Al-Arabiyah channel: "I say to you in a last-minute call, 'stop it'."

And Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the latest escalation was "unbearable."

"Hamas need to understand that our aspiration to live in peace doesn't mean that Israel is going to take this kind of situation any longer," Livni said. "Enough is enough."

Livni was speaking in Cairo after talks with Egyptian officials.

Israel resealed the border with Gaza in November after temporarily opening it to allow in food and fuel. That step was taken after militants fired a rocket at Israel.

with agency reports