Hamas prevents Egypt sealing border

Bulldozers bypass Egyptian guards to smash new openings in Rafah crossing.

    Palestinians entered Egypt in search of supplies denied them by an Israeli blockade [AFP]
    Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have flooded into Egypt, creating a dilemma for the government in Cairo, since a series of blasts broke through the border wall on Wednesday.

    Violence erupts

    Violence erupted at the Rafah border on Friday after the government announced it would close the crossing.
    In video

    Gazans breach Egyptian border for a second time

    Egyptian forces took up positions a few steps into Palestinian territory, using shields to protect themselves from some Gaza residents who climbed on to car roofs and threw stones at them.

    The police responded with batons and water cannon and 22 were injured, according to state news agency Mena.
    After Palestinian fighters bulldozed the new opening Egyptian forces pulled back.

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    "Egyptian border guards have no orders to engage with Palestinians and close the borders again," Al Jazeera's Amr el-Kahky, reported from Rafah.
    "The last thing Egypt would like to be portrayed as would be as an Arab authority beating Arab civilians crossing the border."

    The Egyptian government has been heavily criticed by Western powers for alllowing the border to remain open.

    The US congress has suspended $100 million of aid to Egypt due to the border breach.
    Blockade 'unacceptable'

    Israel tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip last week saying the move was intended to counter cross-border rocket fire by Palestinian groups.

    The closure of the territory led to dwindling supplies of food, fuel and other basic necessities.

    Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has called the situation in Gaza "unacceptable" and called on Israel to "lift its siege" and "solve the problem".
    In an interview to be published on Saturday, Mubarak invited Hamas and Fatah to meet for talks in Cairo.
    Khaled Meshaal, the exiled Hamas leader, accepted the invitation.
    "I and all the brothers in the Hamas leadership welcome participating and will seek to make the dialogue a success," he was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

    There was no immediate response from Fatah, but in the past Abbas has demanded that Hamas relinquish its hold on Gaza and agree to early presidential and parliamentary elections before dialogue is resumed.

    Abdallah Abdallah, a Fatah politician in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said: "There is a Palestinian consensus that Hamas should give up its control of Gaza and fall into line with President Abbas, without this the talks would be a waste of time."

    However, the Hamas-engineered border breaches have boosted the movement's popularity in the territory.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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