Israeli warplanes have bombed contraband tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border. Meanwhile Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah urged Egyptians to pressurise their govt. to open the border with Gaza after Gazans were prevented from entering Egypt.
AFP - Egyptian police fired in the air near the Gaza border town of Rafah on Sunday to prevent Palestinians entering Egypt after Israel launched air strikes to destroy tunnels along the tense frontier.
"Dozens of civilians tried to break through the Barahma crossing after Israel launched air strikes along the Gaza-Egypt border. They were repelled by Egyptian police firing in the air," the official said.
Some Palestinians managed to climb over the border wall into Egypt, with riot police reinforcements being sent to the frontier on the second day of Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 280 people.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah Sunday urged Egyptians in their "millions" to take to the streets to force their government to open the country's border with Gaza, where Israel is conducting deadly air raids against Palestinians.
"If the people took to the streets by the millions, could the police kill millions of Egyptians?" Nasrallah said in a televised address.
"People of Egypt, you must open this border by the force of your chests," he said.
If Egypt did not open the Rafah Crossing to Gaza, he added, it would be considered a partner in the killing of Palestinians by the Israeli military.
Tensions on the border crossing, Gaza's only one to bypass Israel, had risen during the day, with Egypt blaming Hamas for not letting wounded Palestinians through and Hamas asking for medical aid to be handed over.
Israeli warplanes earlier bombed a series of contraband tunnels on the border of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and Egypt, scattering Egyptians waiting at the border to help wounded Palestinians.
The tunnels that criss-cross the border are used to smuggle goods and weapons into the territory that has been virtually cut off from the outside world since Hamas violently seized power in June 2007.
"The air force attacked over 40 tunnels on the Gaza side of the border," said an Israeli army spokeswoman. "Those tunnels were believed to be used for smuggling weapons, explosives and sometimes people."
Some of the blasts hit very close to an Egyptian military camp on the border, an AFP correspondent said.
Immediately afterwards, a Palestinian man with head wounds walked across the border and was taken away by one of the dozens of Egyptian ambulances waiting to treat the wounded since Saturday.
Hamas MP Ghazi Hamed told AFP that the air strikes were targeting smuggling tunnels. The explosion happened as medical aid was about to be taken across into the Gaza Strip, sending people scattering.
Shortly after the wave of attacks, empty Palestinian ambulances arrived at the border and Palestinians began throwing what medical aid they could inside, before driving back into the Gaza Strip.
More than 280 Palestinians have been killed and 600 wounded since Israel began hammering the Gaza Strip with air strikes on Saturday, but few wounded have left via Rafah.
Hamas said it was drawing up lists of the wounded but it was proving difficult to transport them to the border because of the seriousness of their injuries and ongoing Israeli strikes on the impoverished territory.
Several plane- and truck-loads of aid are also waiting to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, a security official said.
In the divided town of Rafah, the road leading to the border crossing was lined with 20 riot police vehicles, an AFP correspondent reported, with 40 ambulances and several pick-ups full of medicine waiting to cross into Gaza.
A Gaza health ministry official at the border, Alaa el-Din Mohammed el-Batta, told AFP that transporting the seriously wounded was a difficult task that was further complicated by continuing Israeli air strikes.
"We have 25 in very critical condition. Because of the distance there are fears that many will die on their way to Cairo," he said.
"We tried transporting them during the raids and tens died on the way from their wounds. The air strikes also complicate things," he said.
An Egyptian medic said that "sometimes they (Hamas) say they're going to bring people, sometimes they say they're not going to bring people. Now they say they want medical supplies for the wounded."
Gaza has been crippled by an Israeli blockade of all but the most essential supplies, with even basic medicines lacking in the impoverished territory. But no emergency medical aid entered on Sunday.
A security official said that an Egyptian plane with 50 doctors on board as well as medical supplies had arrived in nearby El-Arish. Two Qatari aircraft carrying 50 tonnes of medical supplies were waiting at the same airport.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has also ordered three planeloads of medical aid to the Gaza Strip via Egypt, MENA said, and offered to airlift the wounded.
Israel's arch foe Iran has also said it is sending planeloads of food to Cairo to be taken by the Egyptian Red Crescent to Gaza .
Date created : 2008-12-28