Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Aljazeera report on Clashes at Gaza-Egypt Rafah border

35 Palestinians Wounded In Clashes With Egyptian Border Police
author Wednesday January 06, 2010 19:51 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported Wednesday that 35 Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip were wounded by Egyptian fire after the Egyptian border police attacked them near the Salah Ed Deen Gate, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians were protesting in support to the international activists of the Viva Palestina Convoy who were obstructed from entering Gaza and were violently attacked by the Egyptian forces.

Dr. Moawia Hassanen of the Palestinian Ministry of Health told the Palestine Information Center that five Palestinians were hit by live rounds, and are currently in critical conditions.

Dr. Hassanen added that more than 25 Palestinians’ were wounded by Egyptian fire, while others were treated by medics on the scene.

55 persons were wounded on Tuesday evening in Al Arish Egyptian city during clashes that took place when the Egyptian security forces attacked the international peace activists and supporters carrying humanitarian aid to the residents on Gaza.

Clashes at Gaza-Egypt Rafah Border

Al Jazeera English Wed 06 Jan 2010 @ 1330GMT: Al Jazeera English Wed 06 Jan 2010 @ 1330GMT: Clashes at rally Border between Egyptian Soldiers and Palestinian rock throwers at rally protesting attack on aid convoy and construction of new underground wall.

Related News from Maan News Agency:

TV: Egyptian soldier shot dead on Gaza border

Gaza – Ma’an – An Egyptian soldier was shot dead along the border with the Gaza Strip following clashes with Palestinians on Tuesday, Egyptian state television reported.

Earlier, twelve Palestinians were injured during clashes with Egyptian police along the border after a demonstration against perceived Egyptian complicity in an Israeli-led blockade.

The Hamas movement called for a mass demonstration along the border denouncing what they said was an attack on international activists who were bringing aid to Gaza.

Following the demonstration, some 50 people broke away from the crowd of hundreds, pelting Egyptian troops with stones.

The soldiers opened fire on the crowd, wounding two people, according to medics. Ten people were also hurt in a stampede of protesters fleeing the gunfire. Ambulances raced to the scene to retrieve the wounded.

A Ma’an reporter saw Hamas security officers moving in on pickup trucks, forming a cordon in between the protesters and the border. The officers ordered the protesters to disperse through loudspeakers, warning that provocateurs were trying to escalate the protest into a clash with Egypt.

Egyptian security sources told a Ma’an journalist in Al-Arish that a state of alert was declared on the border, and hundreds of troops were sent to the area known as Salah Ad-Din.

On Tuesday night more than 50 international activists were wounded in clashes with riot police in the Egyptian port town of Al-Arish, some 40 kilometers from Gaza. Police threw stones and trained water cannons on more than 500 members of the Viva Palestina convoy, including British MP George Galloway.

Members of the convoy said they blocked the entrance to the Al-Arish port when the Egyptian government demanded that some vehicles of the convoy enter Gaza through an Israeli checkpoint.

British MP George Galloway, who was travelling with the convoy, said Israel was likely to block the shipment of aid.

"It is completely unconscionable that 25% of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza," Galloway told Reuters news agency.

Hamas angrily denounced the violence. “This attack shows that there is no Egyptian will to end blockade or even deliver aid to the besieged people in the Gaza Strip,” movement spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

Israel sealed its borders with Gaza following Hamas’ June 2007 takeover of the territory, causing shortages of vital goods, including fuel and all but 36 types of food items. Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are also largely banned from travelling.

Egypt has come under fire recently for playing a role in the blockade, including building a steel wall along its border with Gaza to cut off smuggling tunnels dug to import goods made scarce by the siege. The wall has also strained relations between Hamas and Egypt.

Egypt however dismissed Hamas’ criticism on Tuesday.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Husam Zaki said Fawzi Barhoum’s comments “were sarcastic.”

He told the London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, “Barhoum’s comments about Egyptian security violating sovereignty of 40 countries who have representatives in the Lifeline convoy mean that Barhoum has no idea about the meaning of sovereignty, and if he has any idea, I herby tell him that Egypt’s sovereignty is above all.”

“Does sovereignty mean demolishing the main gate of Al-Arish terminal? Or does it mean damaging platforms to use the tiles as stones to pelt them at Egyptian security?” Zaki said.

He added, “I am sure that if Egyptian authorities had allowed entry of the fancy private cars which are part of the convoy, he would have changed his mind. If these cars which will eventually serve the upper class in Gaza were allowed, he wouldn’t have said what he said.”

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