Israel places new limitations on cargo crossing into Gaza


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel placed new restrictions on its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip today in response to continued Hamas hostilities, even after it agreed to a cease-fire ending 24 hours of intense fighting.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel will cease transferring gas and fuel through the Kerem Shalom crossing until Sunday but will allow food and essential medication to cross. Commercial cargo was suspended last week.

Lieberman also said Israel was tightening its naval blockade to limit Palestinians from sailing beyond three nautical miles off Gaza's coast. Israel previously allowed sailing up to six nautical miles.

Even after Hamas, Gaza's militant rulers, agreed to a cease-fire late Saturday, incendiary kites and balloons have continued to float from Gaza into Israel setting off damaging fires to farmlands. Israel has stepped up it strikes since then to signal its new threshold for engagement after months of largely refraining to act.

One incendiary balloon landed in the yard of a kindergarten in southern Israel on Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of the children and causing some damage to the yard. No injuries were reported, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

"The Israeli army is prepared and ready for any mission we give it," Lieberman said during a visit to the border area Tuesday. "If we are required to launch a campaign we can overcome any enemy. The army knows what to do, how to do it and when to do it. We will dictate the rules of the game and no one else."

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