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Sealing of Gaza border ends in violence

Latest update : 2008-02-05

Egyptian forces and Hamas were concluding the closure of the Gaza border when violence erupted, leaving one Palestinian dead and several policemen wounded.

A Palestinian was shot dead and six people were wounded, including three Egyptian policemen, in an exchange of fire after the Gaza-Egypt border was sealed on Monday, medics and witnesses said.

The Palestinian sources named the dead man as Hamed al-Qadi, 40.

In addition to the three other Palestinians shot and wounded, 12 people were treated for tear-gas inhalation as Egyptian police opened fire to disperse a protest by about 2,000 Gazans, medics said.

Witnesses on the Egyptian side of the border told AFP that three policemen were also shot and wounded in the incident at the Rafah border post.

Earlier, Egyptian and Hamas forces completely sealed the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, closing the last passage through which people were allowed to return home.

The clashes erupted in the late afternoon when dozens of Palestinian youths threw stones at Egyptian security forces across the border, an AFP correspondent said.

The helmeted Egyptians retaliated by firing shots into the air and tear-gas and also by throwing rocks back at the Palestinians, a large crowd of whom had gathered hoping in vain to be able to cross to the other side.

Egyptian security forces and Hamas gunmen closed the border between Gaza and Egypt on Sunday after reportedly agreeing on restoring control over the frontier that Gaza militants blew open nearly two weeks ago amid a punishing Israeli blockade.

Since explosions brought down sections of the border barriers in Rafah early on January 23, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are estimated to have crossed back and forth into Egypt, most of them to stock up on supplies.

After several days of talks in Cairo last week, Hamas official Mahmud Zahar announced on Saturday that the Islamists had reached a deal with Egypt on restoring control over the frontier.

Date created : 2008-02-05