90 wounded by Egyptians near Gaza

Palestinians blow up holes in border fence; Egyptian border guards fire in the air, use clubs to disperse crowd.

Gaza dark 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Gaza dark 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Masked Palestinian gunmen detonated explosives early Wednesday next to the border wall separating Gaza and Egypt causing several holes in the iron barrier, witnesses said. A similar explosion took place shortly after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, when Gaza militants smuggled weapons and people through the border. Earlier. Egypt delivered a strong warning to Gaza's Hamas government on Tuesday after thousands of Palestinians stormed the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. At least 90 Gazans, most of them women, were wounded by Egyptian border guards using tear gas, clubs, water cannons and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, who were protesting against the continued closure of the border crossing. One Egyptian policeman was wounded in the clashes, the worst since Hamas took full control of the Gaza Strip in June. "The Egyptian government has delivered a strong warning to Hamas following the incident," an Egyptian diplomat told The Jerusalem Post. "We hold the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip responsible for the riots that occurred along our border today." The clashes erupted after the demonstrators stormed through the border terminal, chanting slogans against President Hosni Mubarak and other Arab leaders. Huda Naim, a Hamas legislator who participated in the protest, accused the Egyptian border guards of unleashing dogs against the demonstrators. She said that some of the women who managed to cross into Egypt were refusing to return home until Egypt reopened the terminal. "The Egyptians are participating in the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip," Naim said. "We appeal to President Hosni Mubarak to open the border so that patients can go to hospitals in Egypt and other Arab countries." Hamas officials expressed deep disappointment over Egypt's refusal to help the people living in the Gaza Strip. One official said it was "disgraceful" that the Egyptian authorities were banning Palestinians from traveling to Egypt for medical treatment. "In the morning, we heard that the Egyptians were sending reinforcements to the border with the Gaza Strip," he said. "We thought the reinforcements were intended to help the Palestinians, who have been without water, electricity and medicine. But it later turned out that Mubarak sent his troops to beat women who were staging a peaceful demonstration." Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his movement was planning similar protests in the coming days despite warnings from the Egyptian authorities. "The crisis in the Gaza Strip won't be solved with additional fuel," he said. "The problem is that 1.5 million Palestinians are living in a big prison. Our goal is to end the siege and reopen all the border crossings so that our people can breath."