Egypt opens Gaza border ahead of new protests against Israel

Updated 12 April 2018
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Egypt opens Gaza border ahead of new protests against Israel

  • The opening of the Rafah crossing to Egypt’s Sinai region comes ahead of a third consecutive Friday of planned mass protests along the Gaza-Israel border.
  • Thirty-two Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli forces since March 30 as thousands have approached the border fence and clashes have erupted.

Gaza City: Egypt on Thursday opened its largely sealed border with the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip for three days, on the eve of more planned protests against Israel, Palestinian authorities said.
In just the fourth such opening this year, the Rafah crossing to Egypt’s Sinai region will be open until Saturday for humanitarian cases, the interior ministry in Gaza said.
An AFP photographer saw a first busload of 70 people, including women and children, crossing on Thursday morning.
The opening comes ahead of a third consecutive Friday of planned mass protests along the Gaza-Israel border.
Israeli media reports have said Egypt, one of only two Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state, had been negotiating with Gaza’s rulers Hamas to seek to calm the crisis.
Thirty-two Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli forces since March 30 as thousands have approached the border fence and clashes have erupted.
Israel says its forces have opened fire to stop attempts to damage the fence, infiltrations, bids to carry out attacks and at those seeking to harm soldiers.
Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no threat to soldiers.
The Rafah crossing is the only exit for Gaza residents except into Israel, but Egypt has largely sealed it in recent years, citing security threats.
Egyptian authorities have had a strained relationship with Hamas, which began as an offshoot of Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood.
For more than a decade, Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza that critics say amounts to collective punishment of the coastal territory’s two million Palestinians.
Israel says the blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.
In October, Egypt brokered a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, that was supposed to see the group give up power in Gaza.
But the deal has collapsed, with the two Palestinian groups trading blame.


Nine suspected militants killed in Egypt: ministry

Updated 30 min 29 sec ago

Nine suspected militants killed in Egypt: ministry

  • Police raids in Cairo targeted hideouts of “terrorist elements”
  • Those killed included “a commander of the Liwa Al-Thawra” extremist group

CAIRO: Nine suspected extremists including a commander have been killed in shootouts with police in suburbs of the Egyptian capital, the interior ministry said Wednesday.
Police raids to the east and south of Cairo targeted hideouts of “terrorist elements,” it said in a statement.
Those killed included “a commander of the Liwa Al-Thawra” extremist group, it added.
The Liwa Al-Thawra movement appeared in 2016 and has since claimed deadly attacks against the police and the Egyptian army.
Almost nine years after the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, security remains a chief concern in Egypt.
Hundreds of security personnel have died in an escalation of attacks since the military overthrow of Islamist president Muhammad Mursi in 2013.
That ouster was led by then army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who became president after 2014 polls and secured re-election last year with an official 97 percent of the vote.
In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide offensive against extremists, focused mainly on North Sinai, where the Islamic State jihadist group has a significant presence.
The authorities say some 650 suspected extremists and around 50 soldiers have been killed since.