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Sunday, June 5, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Egypt again closes border with Gaza, prompting clash with Palestinians

GAZA CITY — Days after its opening, the Egyptian-Gaza border has again become a source of tension.


Less than a week after the full opening of the Gaza border, Egypt imposed restrictions on the Rafah border terminal. The restrictions have angered Palestinian travelers who on June 4 rushed the Egyptian border.

About 200 Palestinians, following hours of waiting in the sun, stormed the Rafah terminal and forced the border gate open, Middle East Newsline reported. Egyptian security forces sent reinforcements to stop the Palestinians, and Hamas security officers pulled the Palestinians away from the border gate. No arrests were reported.

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Palestinian sources said Egypt did not announce the closure of Rafah, the first since the full opening of the terminal on May 28. The Hamas regime blamed Egypt for the confrontation between Palestinians and Egyptian forces along the border.

"We have not been notified of any reason for the closure," Hamas police commander at Rafah, Ayub Abu Shaa, said.

Despite the resumption of operations at Rafah, Egyptian authorities have been cautious in allowing Palestinians in the Sinai Peninsula. The sources said Egypt has a list of 5,000 Palestinians barred from entry and was under Israeli and U.S. pressure to again close Rafah.

On May 31, Egypt and the Hamas regime agreed to restrict the flow of Palestinians through Rafah. Hamas, acknowledging that the terminal required repairs, agreed that no more than 350 people per day would be allowed to cross the border.

At the same time, the Hamas regime urged Palestinians to honor Egyptian regulations at Rafah. The new military regime in Cairo agreed to open the Rafah terminal as part of a reconciliation accord between Hamas and the rival Fatah movement, which rules the West Bank.

"We urge citizens to return to the Interior Ministry as we seek to resolve the crisis," Hamas border control director Salameh Barakeh said.

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