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Monday, February 18, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Hamas fighting Egypt to keep border open

CAIRO — The Hamas regime in Gaza has been engaged in a silent war of attrition with neighboring Egypt and with remnants of Western culture in Gaza.

Egyptian security sources said Hamas combatants have been attacking Egyptian security forces along the Sinai-Gaza border. The sources said the Hamas regime has sought to block the rebuilding of the 12-kilometer border wall destroyed by Palestinians on Jan. 23.

Meanwhile, Hamas loyalists continue to attack the Western presence in the Gaza Strip. On Feb. 15, suspected Hamas operatives raided the YMCA in Gaza City and blew up the building, Middle East Newsline reported.

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Palestinian sources said at least 10 assailants stormed the YMCA library, abducted the guards and then blew up the facility, which houses a kindergarten for Muslims. Nobody was injured.

"Sources in Gaza say that Hamas will fire at anyone attempting to build the wall unless the Rafah border crossing is reopened," Hussein El Qayem, an Egyptian official and member of the North Sinai Tagammu party, said.

Over the last few weeks, Hamas gunmen have been firing toward Egyptian workers ordered to reconstruct the Sinai-Gaza border wall. The wall was blown up in at least seven places by Hamas, which prompted the flight of 700,000 Palestinians into the Sinai Peninsula.

In early February, Egypt was reported to have resealed the border. Since then, the Egyptians have fortified the border barrier and plan to install sensors to detect infiltration.

Under the Egyptian plan, the entire Sinai-Gaza border would consist of a high concrete wall. El Qayem said the new wall would be able to withstand bombings.

Hamas has pledged to stop the rebuilding of the Gaza wall. On Feb. 12, Hamas combatants opened fire over the heads of Egyptian construction crews. Nobody was injured.

On Sunday, a suspected Palestinian missile landed in Sinai at an Egyptian border crossing with the Gaza Strip. The missile struck and damaged an Egyptian government building and nobody was injured.

This was the second Palestinian missile to have struck Sinai in as many weeks. On Feb. 6, Hamas fired a Kassam-class short-range missile that landed in eastern Sinai. Egypt has sought to portray the incident as a missile that went awry.

The Islamic regime has already destroyed the iron barrier that separates the Gaza Strip from the Egyptian frontier. Hamas has been in control of this barrier since the movement captured the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

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