Hamas preparing to breach Egyptian border again - paper
15/04/2008 15:12

CAIRO, April 15 (RIA Novosti) - The radical Islamic group Hamas is planning to launch an offensive to break through Gaza's border with Egypt for the second time, Egyptian state daily Al-Ahram reported on Tuesday.

The paper quoted Gaza sources as saying Hamas fighters planned to fire mortar shells at Egyptian troops during the first stage of the operation.

The aim of the operation is to allow Gaza residents, locked into the crowded enclave and running low on supplies amid Israel's blockade, to cross into Sinai.

Hamas last broke the border down at Rafah in January. Hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents flooded into Egypt to buy food, fuel, and essential supplies before the border was re-sealed. Last week, Egypt sent more than a thousand additional security personnel to guard the short frontier, fearing a new breach.

The sources told the paper that Hamas had planted explosives along four kilometers of the border, and said the operation would be assisted by fighters from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The paper said the killing of Egyptian soldiers with live ammunition had been sanctioned by Muslim clerics in a special fatwa issued by Hamas on Friday.

Egyptian authorities opened the country's border with Gaza for one day on April 1 to allow Egyptians stranded in the enclave to re-enter the country.

Apart from the January breach, the Rafah border crossing has remained sealed since last June, when Hamas took control of the territory, ousting President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.

Under international agreements, the opening of Rafah can only be sanctioned by Israel with the participation of European Union observers.

On February 4, when Egyptian security forces re-sealed the border wall following international pressure, violence broke out between Palestinians and Egyptian police. At least one Palestinian was killed and six injured in armed clashes at the Rafah checkpoint.


Original article: RIA Novosti
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