Palestinian civilians, however, are still unable to access the Karni crossing, the main terminal between Gaza and Israel, while the closure on the West Bank remains in place, a spokesman for the Israeli army said on Sunday.

The Karni crossing had been reopened "in accordance with a decision made by the political echelon and following security assessments," said the spokesman. 

The crossing was closed on 24 September as part of a general closure of the Palestinian territories which followed a series of rocket attacks from Palestinian resistance based in the Gaza Strip. 

Israeli strikes

Hamas said the rockets were fired after a deadly blast during a military parade in Gaza that killed at least 19 people and wounded 80 others on 23 September. The resistance group blamed an Israeli airstrike for the blast.

Israel however denied involvement in the blast and retaliated with a massive military assault involving Israeli warplanes and helicopter gunships which bombarded several districts in Gaza. At least 35 Palestinians were injured in the strikes.

Three resistance activists were
killed by Israeli air strikes

Fatah also blamed Hamas for the blast at the parade. But Hamas spokesman in Beirut, Usama Hamdan, told Aljazeera that "tens of Palestinian have seen with their own eyes the falling Israeli missiles". 

He expressed dismay over the official statements issued by the Palestinian Authority which attributed the blast to an explosion resulting from "internal error".


The move to reopen the Karni crossing comes amid efforts to arrange a summit this week between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for their first meeting since Israel pulled its troops out of Gaza nearly a month ago.

The Palestinians are expected to use the summit to press Israel to open up the Gaza borders, both into Israel and neighbouring Egypt.

Palestinian killed

Also on Sunday, a Palestinian resistance fighter was killed in a clash with Israeli troops in the northern West Bank, the army and Palestinians said.

Israeli soldiers clashed with
resistance fighters in West Bank

The troops were conducting a routine patrol north of the city of Jenin when they spotted three armed men nearby, the Israeli army said.

The soldiers shot towards the three Palestinians and, in an ensuing exchange of fire, one of the fighters was killed, the army said.

A group affiliated with the ruling Fatah Party confirmed that three of its men had attempted to carry out an attack on occupation soldiers and one was killed in a shootout.

Retaliation

The group, the al-Aqsa Brigades, said the attack was in retaliation for the killing of three Palestinian fighters in the West Bank town of Nablus earlier this month.

The troops found an M-16 rifle and ammunition clips on the dead man, who was later taken from the area by Palestinian rescue workers, the army said.

Shooting incidents in the northern West Bank have increased in the past two weeks, the army said.

Israel completed a withdrawal from four Jewish settlements in the northern West Bank last month. Israel also evacuated the Gaza Strip in August, but maintains air and border control.