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Palestinian militants attack Gaza crossing

The New York Times reported Sunday Palestinian suicide bombers drove three bomb-laden vehicles into the Kerem Shalom goods crossing on the border with Israel, detonating two cars, the Israeli military said.

Three bombers were killed in the blasts and 13 Israeli solders were wounded. Three soldiers are in moderate condition, while the others were injured lightly, the military said.

Hamas, who controls the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for the attack, which came on the eve of the weeklong Passover holiday in Israel. This was the fifth attack along the border in the past 10 days.

The attack on the Kerem Shalom terminal, where goods are transferred into the Gaza, appeared to be part of a campaign by Gaza militants against border crossings. Hamas officials have issued threats of explosions along Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt because Israel has limited the movement of people and goods out of Gaza, since Hamas took over power.

The Gaza’s border with Egypt is mostly closed, which means that the Gaza’s population of 1.5 million is reliant on goods allowed in from Israel. The military said about 200 trucks of essential food and medical supplies pass through Kerem Shalom each week.

Israel said that the border attack is Hamas’ plan on trying to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza that would put international pressure on Israel.

In addition, former President Jimmy Carter was in Damascus with exiled Hamas leader to talk about a potential cease-fire and a prisoner exchange.

Hamas is holding an Isreali soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, prisoner and wants the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israel in exchange for the corporal. The United States and other international countries are angry with President Carter because they have marked Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The Los Angeles Times reported the attack occurred around 6 a.m. Saturday morning, an Israeli army spokeswoman said. Three vehicles approached the crossing, including two modified jeeps that looked like Israeli army vehicles and an armored personnel carrier, she added.

Mortar rounds came down and at least one jeep exploded near Israeli soldiers, the army spokeswoman said. Several men emerged from an armored vehicle and began to open fire, Maj. Avital Leibovich said.

“It could have been much worse,? Leibovich said. He went on to add that the soldiers’ rapid response and protection by Isreali armored vehicles helped prevent large numbers of casualties. (Los Angeles Times)