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Egypt restricts use of Gaza crossing | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Egyptian officials at the border with Gaza restricted Palestinian use of the Rafah crossing on Saturday, Hamas police told AFP.

A security source in Egypt initially said the crossing was closed for works which should have been completed on Friday and efforts were underway to allow through Palestinian buses.

Egyptian security and state television later said the Rafah crossing had reopened, but only for pedestrians, as the works prevented the passage of vehicles.

But Palestinian officials said the movement was one-way only and hundreds of would-be travellers out of the coastal strip had been turned back and told to move away from the frontier fence.

Egypt reopened the Rafah crossing, the only way in and out of Gaza that is not controlled by Israel, last month after it had been largely shut since June 2006 when Israel imposed a blockade after militants snatched an Israeli soldier.

The Israeli blockade was tightened in 2007 when the Islamist movement Hamas seized control of the coastal territory, with Egypt cooperating by tightly restricting movement through Rafah.

Egypt’s decision to permanently reopen Rafah came more than three months after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned following 18 days of massive street protests against his rule.

The closure came after Lebanon barred its residents from approaching the border with Israel on Sunday, when the Palestinians mark 44 years since the seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War.

Palestinians in Lebanon and other Arab states neighbouring Israel have said they plan to march on the Jewish state’s borders to mark the anniversary.