Gaza is closed

Israeli authorities seem to have found the most direct answer to the threats coming from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military on Thursday isolated the Gaza Strip, declaring it a "closed military zone" to prevent Jewish extremists from going in after a series of violent incidents in recent days.

In the army statement, cited by AP, is said that because of the violence, "the head of the southern command ... signed a closure order preventing nonresidents from entering the Gaza Strip."

"In the past day there has been another serious escalation of extremist activity," the army statement said. "There is intelligence information that more extremist groups are moving toward the Gaza Strip with the intention of strengthening their friends and to escalate the provocative acts."

Meanwhile, gunfire erupted early Thursday near the Lebanese border between Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah fighters, with one fighter struck, the Israeli Defense Forces was qouted as saying by CNN. An IDF unit identified a Hezbollah cell in the same location as another one was seen a day earlier, the organization said - in the Shebaa Farms area. The Hezbollah fighters were armed and inside Israeli territory, the IDF said. The Israelis opened fire and said one Hezbollah fighter was struck.

Earlier Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered police to crack down on Jewish extremists after they were filmed violently attacking a Palestinian youth in the Gaza Strip.

As Pravda earlier reported, on Wednesday Israeli authorities began expelling a group of young Jewish settlers from an abandoned house where they set up an outpost near this Gaza settlement. A crowd of Jewish young extremists started a fight with soldiers and, after being repulsed, the crowd headed toward the nearby Palestinian area of al-Mawasi, throwing stones, destroying houses.

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