CAIRO: Egypt intends to bring to an end the weeklong freedom of movement between Gaza and Rafah in after Palestinians broke through the border wall, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Sunday.
“Egypt will take necessary actions and measures to control the border in Gaza soon, the foreign minister said on Sunday after meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Cairo.
To this end, Egyptian forces tightened the security cordon around Rafah and prevented cars from entering and leaving. However, pedestrians from Gaza were still allowed to cross in and out of Egypt.
But it seems the splurge is about to end as most of the traders catering to the Palestinians have left and are prevented from returning, and fuel supplies in the area have not replenished.
A security source told The Associated Press that new orders had been given to Egyptian forces to fire back if attacked following the injury of 38 soldiers over the weekend when Egypt attempted to seal the border breaches.
Aboul Gheit condemned what he referred to as Palestinian “provocations during attempts to seal the border Saturday. Hamas fighters retaliated by firing at the soldiers.
An Arab foreign ministers meeting also took place in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the issue and Egypt has invited Hamas and its rival Fatah for prompt talks concerning the crisis. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due in Egypt Wednesday to hold talks with counterpart Hosni Mubarak.
It also seems that Egypt has agreed to a plan that would see the Palestinian Authority (PA) resume control of the Rafah border crossing, the de facto status in 2005.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki told Reuters after the meeting with Aboul Gheit that Egypt had agreed to return to an agreement which would see the crossing controlled by Abbas’ presidential guard.
“Hamas will be told this is the position, and if they don t accept it, they will be held responsible for the protracted closure of the border crossings, Al-Malki said.
Hamas rejected this idea. Member Sami Abu Zahri said, “We have our own vision of how the crossing will be run and we will present our vision to our Egyptian brothers.
However, a senior Egyptian diplomat stated that this is what Egypt would prefer, saying, “We want to end this crisis through the takeover of control of the border crossing by the legitimate Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian foreign ministry had placed the initial blame for the breach and Palestinian breakthrough on the Israeli blockade of Gaza, adding that it was Israel’s responsibility to alleviate the situation.
A foreign ministry statement read that the breach was “a direct result of the blockage and the measures imposed by Israel on the Gaza population . indicating Israel s legal responsibility, as an occupation force under the Fourth Geneva Convention.