Egyptian FM: We'll break infiltrators' legs

Warns no further border breaches will be tolerated, blasts Hamas for rocket attacks.

gheit 224 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
gheit 224 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Egypt's foreign minister said that no further violations of its borders would be tolerated in the wake of a 12-day breach on its frontier with Gaza and said anyone daring to cross would have their legs broken, the state news agency reported. The uncharacteristically assertive remarks by Ahmed Aboul Gheit came during a late night interview on state television, in which he criticized both Israel and Hamas for creating the unstable situation on Egypt's border. "Anyone who violates Egypt's borders will get his legs broken," Aboul Gheit was quoted as saying. He added that Egypt only allowed the Palestinians to cross the border after Hamas blew up the wall because of fears over the humanitarian situation resulting from Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. He blamed Israel for the humanitarian crisis and hardship that Gaza is experiencing, and for "responding to the Palestinian (Hamas) missiles with collective punishment." He also criticized Hamas for launching those missile attacks, describing the confrontation as "laughable caricature" resulting in self-inflicted wounds. "After Hamas's takeover of Gaza, it has decided to clash with Israel, though this clash seems to be a laughable caricature, because clashing with an opponent in battle is supposed to mean damaging them," he said. "You do not go into battle just to damage yourself." He said Hamas's missiles either fall back in Gaza and injure Palestinians or give the Israelis a pretext to attack them. The Egyptian's remarks drew a quick response from a Hamas leader in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, who called them "inappropriate" and said he did not believe they reflected the official Egyptian stance. "All we want is an open border crossing," Abu Zuhri said. "Instead of making these threats against the Palestinian people, [Aboul Gheit] should voice his anger against the Israeli occupation, which is what is closing the border crossings between Gaza and Egypt." After 12 days during which Palestinians stocked up on food fuel and consumer products, Egypt reclosed the border pending a return to the 2005 international monitoring agreement involving Israeli and EU monitors. Hamas rejects the agreement and has called for a role in controlling the border. Since the closure, Palestinians have clashed with Egyptian border guards.