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Photo: AP
Border crossing into Gaza in Rafah
Photo: AP
Egypt activists denied Gaza entry
Gaza blockade not ending yet: Egypt prevents hundreds of activists carrying Palestinian flags, trucks carrying humanitarian aid from entering Strip via Rafah Crossing; meanwhile, Hamas says no Red Cross visits for Shalit

Egypt banned hundreds of activists from Gaza, igniting protests at the Rafah border that is the only non-Israeli entry into the Palestinian enclave, a security official said on Saturday.

 

Hundreds of Egyptian activists headed to the Rafah border crossing on Friday but were denied entry into the Gaza Strip, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

 

"They spent the night in front of the crossing asking to be let in and continued protesting on Saturday," the official said.

 

Carrying Palestinian flags, they chanted "Palestine is Arab," "Open the border," and "Lift the blockade," witnesses told AFP.

 

By Saturday afternoon, most of the activists had started making their way back to Cairo, the official said.

 

Authorities also denied entry to two trucks carrying humanitarian aid sent by the people of the Egyptian province of Daqahliya.

 

"Authorities forced the truck drivers to head back to the (north Sinai) town of El-Arish saying that the Rafah crossing was only for the passage of people not goods," one of the organizers, MP Mohsen Radi, said.

 

Blockade relief?

Amid the international outcry over an Israeli commando operation against a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which killed nine Turkish activists in international waters on June 1, Egypt announced it was opening its Rafah border crossing.

 

The surprise move has allowed some additional aid into Gaza but only some Palestinians, such as those seeking treatment or study abroad, are permitted to cross.

 

The Egyptian opposition has long campaigned against the government's refusal to fully open the Gaza border, even at the height of the deadly offensive which Israel launched against the territory in December 2008.

 

Opposition parties have accused the authorities of being complicit in the Israeli blockade through their construction of an underground barrier intended to prevent smugglers tunneling under the border.

 

Meanwhile, Hamas' Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal said Saturday that the Gaza blockade should not be linked to the Gilad Shalit issue. The Hamas leader said that Shalit is just like the Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and rejected any possibility that a Red Cross delegation would be allowed to visit him.

 

Mashaal spoke at a Khartoum press conference, where a Hamas delegation is visiting at this time.

 

Ali Waked contributed to this report

 


פרסום ראשון: 06.12.10, 22:42
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