AL-ARISH: A group of Palestinians trapped in an Egyptian airport since the border with Gaza was closed in mid-June tried to break out on Monday, smashing furniture and clashing with security forces.
A security source told AFP that 28 Palestinians belonging to various factions, including Hamas which violently took over the Gaza Strip on June 15, tried to smash their way out of Al-Arish airport in northern Egypt.
No one was hurt in the ensuing clashes, the source said.
The men ransacked the airport hall, destroying seats, smashing windows and demanding the reopening of the Rafah border crossing, Gaza s only border point that does not go via Israel, before police were sent in.
While thousands of Palestinians stranded in Egypt have been allowed to travel back to Gaza via Israel, those remaining fear arrest there because of their political affiliations and insist on crossing via Rafah instead.
Those being held at Al-Arish do not have visas to be in Egypt and therefore continue to be held there where living conditions inside the airport are reportedly dire and journalists are not allowed to enter.
Any opening of the border is increasingly unlikely since Israel last week declared the entire Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million largely impoverished Palestinians, a hostile territory.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that such a move would be contrary to Israel s obligations towards the civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights law.
When open, Rafah is operated in close cooperation by Egypt, European Union monitors, Israel and the Palestinians, and can be closed if any one party refuses to participate.