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Gaza-Egypt Border Sealed for 6 Eid Days, Closes Fridays and Saturdays

Gaza-Egypt border sealed for 6 days

Published today (updated) 15/11/2010 18:25 RAFAH (Ma'an) --

Border officials said the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt would close Monday for six days over the Eid Al-Adha holiday.

An Egyptian official said the closure also applied to Egypt's port Awja in central Sinai, and that the Rafah crossing would follow the port's weekend closures, shutting down every Friday and Saturday.

In light of the blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza, the Egyptian border offers a potential lifeline for the besieged population, and their only link to the outside world.

When Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007 Egypt sealed the border, opening it on very few occasions until June 2010.

On 23 January 2008, Palestinian militants destroyed a section of the wall with explosives, and thousands of residents poured into Egypt in an unprecedented scene, stockpiling goods that had been cut off by Israel's blockade. At the time, aid officials in Gaza said the coastal enclave was days away from a humanitarian crisis.

The breakthrough led to accusations from Israel that Egyptian security at the border was inadequate. The US threatened to withhold military aid from Egypt unless it took action to improve border security.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak opened Rafah crossing indefinitely in June following Israelís raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship on 31 May, in which nine passengers were killed. The raid sparked international condemnation of Israelís blockade of the Strip, and became the subject of a UN investigation.

Meanwhile, Israel's Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Monday urged Israeli security services to speed up the construction of a barrier on the Israeli-Egyptian border, Israel Radio reported. Yishai told the official station that in the mean time forces should be deployed at the border to prevent migrants entering. He also suggested that a prison should be established near the border to detain asylum seekers caught in the area.

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