CAIRO Ñ Egypt has sharply restricted the entry of Palestinians in
wake of an attack on its foreign minister.
Arab diplomatic sources said Egypt has imposed restrictions at its
crossing point in Rafah over the last week. The sources said the result has
been the refusal to permit hundreds of Palestinians to enter Egypt from
the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian authorities have sought to ban Islamists or those connected to
Hamas and Islamic Jihad from entering Egypt, the sources said. They said one
of the Palestinians refused entry was Nadia Al Asha, the wife of Hamas
leader Mussa Abu Marzouk.
The measure was said to have reflected Egyptian anger over the
Palestinian attack on Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher in late
December. Maher was attacked by an Islamic group in the Al Aqsa mosque on
Jerusalem's Temple Mount and required brief hospitalization, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The attack on Maher was regarded as a Palestinian attack on [Egyptian
President Hosni] Mubarak himself," an Arab diplomat said. "We are talking
about an organized attack that was not prevented by the Palestinian
The PA has formally apologized for the attack and PA Chairman Yasser
Arafat sent a high-level delegation to Mubarak. But the Egyptian state-run
media have been scathing in their condemnation of Arafat and called for
long-term sanctions on his regime.
Publicly, Egypt has not acknowledged the new restrictions. Egyptian
consul in Gaza, Mohammed Munir Abdul Aziz, said his government has not
reduced the number of travelers who seek to enter the Sinai Peninsula.
"Nothing has changed after the incident and Palestinian visitors
continued to enter into the country as usual," Abdul Aziz, said.