An Egyptian soldier keeps guard on the border between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A Palestinian from Gaza was killed and two others wounded during clashes with Egyptian soldiers near Rafah on Saturday, Palestinian media reported.
Two men were taken into custody after a group of men emerged from a tunnel shaft on the Egyptian side of the volatile border. Ignoring calls from the Egyptian military to surrender, the unarmed Gazans tried to escape through an opening back into the Strip when they were shot at by Egyptian troops.
Sinai-based intelligence units have long urged Egypt to beef up security along the border with Gaza and put its guards on high alert near Rafah, military sources say, especially after receiving information of planned terror attacks through the tunnels.
Following the seven-week war with Israel, which has left the Gaza Strip in dire straits, with tens of thousands homeless and seeking jobs – smuggling Palestinians through the underground tunnel network has become a lucrative business.
According to Fatah, which this week slammed Hamas for cashing in on illegal immigration, the terror group charges up to $2,000 from every Palestinian who seeks to leave Gaza through a tunnel. Egyptian human traffickers are also in on the scheme, the Palestinian Authority claims, which has prompted Egypt's border personnel to crack down.
But for many, tunnels out of Gaza are just the first leg of the journey. Dozens have escaped on Europe-bound boats, many of which have capsized off the shores of Egypt and Libya in recent weeks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas plans to send a delegation to Malta, where a number of Palestinian refugees died in a shipwreck earlier this week. The delegation will request humanitarian aid for those who survived and are seeking refuge in European countries.
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