VIDEO - Egyptian security forces and Hamas militants strung barbed wire across one of the breaches in the border Monday in a sign that a six-day opening of the frontier may finally be reaching its conclusion.
Three trucks of Egyptian security forces pulled up to the "Brazil" gate and strung wire across this entry point into Egypt. They were aided by half a dozen bearded and uniformed Hamas militants from the other side of the border.
Video courtesy of Infolive.tv
At the main Salah Eddin gate, meanwhile, Palestinian and Egyptian security forces manned the crossing points, stopping civilian cars and letting trucks through, while pedestrians scoured the nearly empty stores for food and consumer products to take back to the Gaza Strip with them in fear of an imminent border reclosing
Six days after Hamas blew holes in the border wall with Egypt to end a two year blockade and sent hundreds of thousands of Palestinians across the border in a shopping frenzy, authorities in the region are still struggling to come up with a new system to administer the border.
Egypt wants to restore shared control of the border among the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and European Union monitors, while Hamas rejects the old system and is pushing for a new one - presumably with more control in the hands of the militant group.
Hamas is dispatching a delegation to Egypt to discuss Rafah security Wednesday - the same day Abbas meets in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. But the rival Palestinian factions will likely meet separately with Egyptian officials. Abbas refuses to talk to Hamas until the group gives up control of Gaza.
Sources in the Strip estimated that the onrush of Palestinians into Egypt would end by the weekend, but did not believe that Hamas and Abbas could reach an agreement on a solution for the crossings problem.
Barak: Egyptians must restore situation
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also addressed the situation at the Rafah border on Monday, saying that "the crossings on our side will remain closed, excluding the transfer of humanitarian aid.
"In terms of Rafah I expect the Egyptians to recluse the border and restore the situation. I estimate that it is their interest to do so," Barak said during a visit at the Israel Aerospace Industries plant at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Palestinians could still be seen shopping Monday, picking their way carefully through the vast puddles left on the muddy streets by yesterday's downpour. Trucks from Gaza continued trundling across the border bringing scrap metal to sell in Egypt and carrying back more products.
Meanwhile Monday, officials said that the European Union was considering sending its monitors back to Gaza's border with Egypt and possibly other crossing points, provided Hamas offers assurances they will not be at risk.
"The European Union is looking into a comprehensive solution to the question of the (Gaza) crossings, including the possible redeployment at Rafah," a European official told Reuters in Jerusalem, referring to Gaza's only crossing with Egypt.
Hanan Greenberg and Reuters contributed to this report