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Egypt warns against any new border violation

By Agencies

For the third time in 10 days, a senior Hamas delegation crossed into Egypt on Saturday to discuss the tenuous situation on the Gaza border, while top Egyptian security officials warned against any threats to the frontier.


The six-person Hamas delegation, led by senior Gaza Hamas officials Mahmoud Zahar and Said Siyam, crossed into Egypt from Rafah terminal to meet Egyptian security officials in nearby el-Arish, a security official familiar with the discussions said.


Egyptian officials repeated warnings to Hamas to stay away from the border and not even think of reopening it by force as they did on January 23, when explosives blew several holes in the frontier and sent hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into Egypt to shop for supplies.


The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.


Aside from possessing explosives, Hamas also has rockets and mortars concealed along the border which have only been used against Israel in the past, and have caused some concern on the Egyptian side.


Hamas hopes to discuss measures for reopening the border with Egypt and coming up with a new monitoring system that would not involve Israel, which they accuse of closing the border to pressure the Palestinians.


Egypt, however, has publicly called for a restoration of the 2005 international border agreement involving Israeli and EU monitors and officials from the Palestinian Authority Ñ none of whom are now at the border.


While President Hosni Mubarak originally allowed Palestinians to cross the border when it was blown open, the wounding of Egyptian soldiers by militants and the detention of some 20 Hamas members in Egypt carrying explosive belts and weapons strained relations.


After the border was reclosed, Egypt’s foreign minister threatened to break the legs of any Palestinians crossing illegally. Hamas responded by saying that they would breach the border again if the blockade continues. (AP)