Egypt has boosted security along its border with the Gaza Strip in anticipation of an Israeli attack on the Hamas-ruled territory, officials said on Friday.
Officials and residents in north Sinai said they fear a repeat of the Palestinian breach of the border in January, when tens of thousands of Gazans poured into Egypt after gunmen in Gaza blew holes in the border barricade.
“There is a heavy security presence near the border with Gaza,” a security official told AFP. “We are worried that because of Israeli pressure, the Palestinians will breach the border.”
An AFP correspondent said police had set up checkpoints on roads leading to the border and that some north Sinai residents have begun stocking up on food.
“We are preparing to be ready if there is breach,” said north Sinai governor Abdel Fadil Shusha.
Violence in and around Gaza flared up after a six-month ceasefire between Hamas and Israel ended on December 19.
Meanwhile, a possible IDF invasion is still on hold, and on Sunday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hold a number of meetings on the matter.
The diplomatic effort to reach an international agreement on such an operation will also be renewed.
Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will convene for a number of meetings. The first meeting will deal with the preparedness of the Israeli front and the ability to improve its defense before a military operation.
Another meeting will address the diplomatic aspects of an operation, including the international support recruited by the Foreign Ministry.
The third meeting will cover the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, following rising international concern.
Thursday night dozens of mortar shells were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip. One hit and damaged a vacant building in Ramat Eshkol Regional Council.
Despite the attacks, the Defense Ministry did not take back its decision to open the Gaza crossings to allow the entrance of humanitarian aid, and 40 trucks carrying food, medicine and other goods were allowed into Gaza Friday morning.
Ilana Curiel contributed to this report