Israel Lifts Some Gaza Restrictions

Posted November 24th, 2012 at 2:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Palestinians in Gaza say Israel has relaxed some border restrictions since the two sides implemented an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire late Wednesday.

Palestinian fishermen said they were able to travel as far as seven kilometers offshore without being harassed by Israeli officials, after Israel announced it was doubling the allowable distance. Israel says the blockade is meant to prevent weapons smuggling.

On land, Palestinians were allowed to enter an Israeli-administered buffer zone to tend crops near the border with the Jewish state, a day after Israeli troops shot a Palestinian to death for doing just that.

And schools in Gaza were reopened Saturday after being closed since the start of the eight days of violence during which the rivals traded intense aerial assaults, killing some 160 Palestinians and six Israelis.

Friday's death of Palestinian Anwar Qdeih was the first since the cease-fire was implemented. Palestinian medical officials say he was shot as he approached a Gaza border fence, and several other Palestinians who came toward the fence were wounded.

Israel's military says the death took place after warning shots were fired into the air when about 300 Palestinians approached the border fence in southern Gaza. The military says after the Palestinians refused to move back, troops fired at their legs.

The military also says a Palestinian who crossed into Israel during the unrest has been returned to Gaza by soldiers.

Hamas accused Israel of violating the Egyptian-mediated truce and said the militant group will contact Egyptian officials to discuss the incident.

The violence came after more than a day of quiet skies after the truce went into effect late Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his government was “giving the truce a chance,” but was prepared for its possible collapse.

Egypt is monitoring both sides for violations of the cease-fire agreement. The truce follows intense aerial assaults on both sides of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, leaving more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.

Israel and Hamas had traded rocket fire for eight days after an Israeli missile killed Hamas's military chief in Gaza City last week. Israel says the attack was in response to months of almost daily rocket fire into southern Israel from Gaza.