Egypt dispatched nearly 300 riot police to boost security at its border with Gaza Strip on Monday as Palestinians demanded the opening of the Rafah crossing for patients needing hospital treatment. According to Reuters, Egyptian security officials said some 300 people demonstrated on the Palestinian side of the crossing on Monday.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called on Israel to lift the blockade against Palestinians in the coastal strip. Mubarak telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Monday to warn of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, the state-run agency MENA reported.
Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal spoke by telephone to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who briefed him on international efforts to make Israel "end this tragedy immediately", Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said. "The collective punishment should stop immediately," Zaki told Reuters.
Israel said the closure was in response to rocket attacks from Gaza. According to Zaki, Cairo's advice to Hamas has always been to stop firing rockets. "They are of no value and only provoke Israel," he said. "We also want them (Hamas) to end their coup so that legitimacy can return to Gaza."