Egypt-Gaza border sealed as Hamas sets conditions for long-term solution
The Egypt-Gaza Strip border has been sealed off to Palestinian vehicles as talks held in Cairo to resolve the crisis.
Egyptian security forces and Hamas members were working in tandem to control the frontier, an Egyptian policeman said on Thursday. "The order was given, there seems to have been an agreement," the policeman said at Saladdin Gate, one of the two crossings linking the divided border town of Rafah. An Egyptian security force of some 20,000 has been deployed in the north of the Sinai peninsula since Saturday, a security source said, many of them picking up Palestinians and returning them to the border.
However, according to AFP, pedestrian traffic was still moving in both directions despite driving rain, and at Brazil Gate, Egyptian-registered vehicles laden with merchandise, were being allowed to move in both directions. All breaches in the border barrier, which was blown up last week after Israel imposed a punishing blockade on the coastal territory, have been closed by fencing and barbed wire.
Meanwhile, a delegation headed by Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal held talks in Cairo with Egypt's intelligence chief General Omar Suleiman on finding a long-term solution to the issue of Gaza Strip crossings, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said. According to press reports, Hamas has proposed joint Palestinian-Egyptian control of the Rafah crossing. The delegation proposed removing EU observers, maintaining that these observers were in no position to stop Israel from closing the border crossing.
Other conditions set by Hamas include that the Palestinian role should be determined by an agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. The movement also said it was against Israel's veto power to close the crossing.
Hamas further proposed that the entry into and out of Gaza Strip through Rafah should not only be confined to Palestinians carrying identification cards issued by the PA.