CAIRO/RAFAH: The final day of the temporary opening of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt saw 16 Palestinians cross through, the local coordinator for Palestinian affairs in the area told Daily New Egypt.
Around 570 Gazans seeking medical treatment had entered Egypt on Sunday, according to Abdel-Sattar El-Ghalban, but he stated there were still more Palestinians who were stranded in Gaza needing to get out.
Of the Palestinians seeking medical attention, 200 were wounded in Israeli strikes against Gaza, and 70 were children under the age of 16.
The Rafah crossing was opened on Saturday to allow Gazans seeking medical attention into Egypt, as well as permitting holders of foreign passports to leave the territory.
Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman was in Tel Aviv yesterday to meet with Israeli officials concerning a ceasefire agreement Egypt is brokering between them and Hamas.
Suleiman told reporters after holding talks with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that he had “high expectations about the success of reaching a ceasefire agreement.
Suleiman then met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem.
“We value the Egyptian role. We are seeking Arab and Muslim support for Egypt to open the crossing permanently, El-Ghalban said. “Egypt is doing what it can but the Arabs need to stand behind it to reopen the crossing.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said in Gaza that he wished Suleiman success and urged Israel to “respond positively to the Egyptian efforts and to lift the siege and open the crossings.
Mark Regev, spokesman for Olmert, said, “We see our relationship with Egypt as one of the central foundations of regional stability, and a pillar of our foreign policy, and we are always eager to engage with the Egyptian government.
“Israel is only responding to aggression from Gaza. We shall see what the Egyptians are bringing, but we do want peace and quiet on the southern border, he added.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said in Gaza that the ceasefire agreement must oblige Israel to “stop all forms of aggression against our people and lift the blockade imposed on Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian territories.
“We hope that the Israeli side will listen to reason and put an end to its attacks and its blockade, Zahar added.
One of the conditions of the proposed ceasefire is for the Rafah crossing to be reopened under the control of the Presidential Guard of Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Egypt’s mediation plan consists of Hamas ending rocket fire into Southern Israel, with Israel reciprocating in Gaza, accompanied by a prisoner exchange of 400 Palestinian prisoners for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the opening of border crossings between Gaza and Israel.