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Egypt Reopens Gaza Border Crossing After Tense Delay, Despite US-Israeli Pressure

Egypt reopens Gaza border after tense delay

Published today (updated) 04/06/2011 14:14

 GAZA CITY (Ma'an) --

Egypt reopened its Rafah border with Gaza several hours later than scheduled on Saturday, causing tension as hundreds of Palestinians waited to cross.

Several buses queued at the Egyptian gate, and dozens of Palestinians tried to break through the crossing into Egypt, witnesses said.

Egyptian security officers lined up carrying clubs preparing to stop any border breach, onlookers told Ma'an.

Ayoub Abu Sha'ar, head of the Palestinian police unit at Rafah, said phone calls to the Egyptian side went unanswered, and Egyptian authorities made no official announcement that the crossing would be closed.

According to a security source in Egypt, the opening of the crossing was delayed for works which were to have been completed on Friday.

Egypt reopened the Rafah crossing on May 28, allowing the free movement of Palestinians from Gaza for the first time in four years. The terminal is the only crossing which Israel does not control.

However, floods of travelers overwhelmed the crossing, and the situation escalated into a crisis within days as officials traded accusations over the responsibility for huge queues at the terminal.

Hamas officials were also angered by Egypt's publication of a blacklist, banning 5,000 Palestinians from traveling.

On Tuesday, Egyptian authorities met with Palestinian officials and agreed to limit use of the crossing to 400 travelers per day.

Representative of Palestine in Cairo, Mohammad Arafat, said Wednesday that Egypt was under intense pressure from Israel and the US to close the border crossing. He said Egypt was reviewing the names of those blacklisted from travel.

Some Palestinians on the blacklist said they would appeal to Egyptian courts. They said the decision was based on inaccurate information received by the former Egyptian state security.

The decision to permanently reopen the Rafah crossing came more than three months after former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (and the darling puppet of Israel) resigned under pressure following 18 days of massive street protests against his rule.

Israeli ministers slammed the reopening of the border, warning that Palestinian resistance groups would be able to move weapons and people freely through the crossing.

The border has remained largely shut since June 2006 when Israel imposed a tight blockade on Gaza Strip after the elected Palestinian government there refused to recognize the Israeli theft of Palestinian lands.

The United Nations has called the blockade illegal and repeatedly demanded it be lifted. However, the governments which are under Zionist control have participated in a shameful siege against 1.7 million Palestinian refugee for no other reason than insisting on their freedom and their rights.

AFP contributed to this report.


Egyptian Authorities Close Rafah Terminal Without Reasons Given

[ 04/06/2011 - 10:26 AM ]


The Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah border terminal with Gaza Strip on Saturday without giving any reason for the step, Ayoub Abu Sha'ar, the director of the Rafah terminal police, said.

He said in a press statement published by the Palestinian Interior Ministry’s website that the Egyptian authorities refused to allow entry of busses carrying passengers into the Egyptian side of the terminal.

Abu Sha'ar said that the step came as a surprise and that the Egyptians would not answer inquires by the Palestinian side regarding the act.

Hundreds of Palestinian passengers have gathered in front of the Rafah crossing waiting for any new development allowing them access, most of the Palestinians expressed frustration at the Egyptian government's step.

Abu Sha'ar said that the crossing worked very well in the first three days after its opening but work returned to slow motion over the past three days until its complete stop today without any prior notice.

Palestinian Protestors Break Into The Rafah Terminal

Saturday June 04, 2011 13:51 by George Rishmawi - IMEMC & Agencies

Dozens of Palestinian protestors from the Gaza Strip broke into the Rafah terminal that links between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, Saturday morning.

The Egyptian authorities have suddenly decided to close the terminal without any coordination with the Palestinian Authority. Egypt has opened it at the beginning of June.
A source in ruling Hamas party in the Gaza Strip said at least 180 passenger who has been waiting for several hours on the busses to cross to Egypt broke into the gate of the terminal, as they were surprised of this sudden closure of the terminal.

The source added there is maintenance work being carried out in the Egyptian terminal. However, no comment has been made by the Egyptian Authorities yet on this issue.

The deposed government of Hamas has expressed complains earlier this week that despite the claimed ease by the Egyptian government the situation remains hard at the terminal, and passengers need a long time to cross the terminal.

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