01/28/2009, 00.00
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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Aerial attack on Hamas tunnel in response to the death of an Israeli soldier

by Joshua Lapide
First violent break in the ceasefire. Meanwhile the US envoy George Mitchell arrives, with a message from Obama for a resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – At dawn this morning Israeli airplanes bombed a network of tunnels on the border between Egypt and Gaza, used by Hamas to smuggle arms.  The raid was in response to the killing of an Israeli soldier yesterday.  The Israeli army spokesman says that a a distance controller bomb exploded on the border between Israel and the Strip, killing one soldier and wounding three others.

The explosion was the first violation with victims since a ceasefire was announced by both sides, in the wake of Egyptian mediation.

The Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings on the Gaza border were closed after the attack. Approximately 185 trucks carrying aid and equipment were to have crossed into Gaza yesterday.

Yesterday shortly after the explosion a Hamas militant was killed in a missile strike.  According to Israeli intelligence he was involved in the attack.  A Palestinian civilian was also killed in the subsequent shoot-out that followed the border attack.

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell arrives in Israel today to take the first steps towards reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.  Mitchell began his regional tour in Cairo bearing a message from US President Barack Obama that the "moment is ripe" for peace talks. He will meet Israeli leaders today and visit the West Bank on Thursday to talk to Palestinian leaders, but Western diplomats said he would not meet Hamas officials.

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