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Egypt closes Gaza border due to anti-jihadist operation

© AFP/File | Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas stand guard outside the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, under the control of the Palestinian Authority, on December 16, 2017

GAZA CITY (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) - 

Egypt on Friday closed its border with the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said, after Cairo launched a major operation against jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula.

The head of Hamas, the Islamist group which runs Gaza, was however permitted to travel to Cairo for talks before the border was closed a day earlier than planned.

Friday was supposed to be the final of a three-day border opening for humanitarian cases from Gaza, the first time the Rafah border crossing with Egypt had been open in 2018.

"The Rafah border was closed today due to the security situation in Sinai, we were informed by the Egyptian authorities," said Saleh al-Zaq, head of the civil affairs committee which controls the borders.

The Egyptian army announced Friday morning the launch of a major operation against jihadists across swathes of territory, including the Sinai Peninsula bordering Gaza.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya crossed the border to Cairo for talks with Egyptian leaders before Rafah was closed, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said.

He said the talks would include an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between Hamas and rival Palestinian movement Fatah that has faltered, with multiple deadlines missed.

It was believed to be Haniya's first trip outside Gaza since the United States included him on its terror blacklist last month.

© 2018 AFP