'We'll shoot anyone who crosses border'

Egyptian official says Hamas delegation in Egypt to discuss border will be issued a "blunt" warning.

rafah gaza great 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
rafah gaza great 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
A top Hamas delegation crossed into Egypt Thursday to meet up with Egyptian officials wanting to make clear that no further breaches of its border with the Gaza Strip will be tolerated, a security official said. The Hamas delegation, led by Mahmoud Zahar, came at the Egyptian request, after they received reports that the Islamist organization was planning to forcibly reopen the borders again at the end of the month, the official said speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. "The Egyptians will tell Hamas bluntly that the old self-restraint manner is over and that Egyptian security guards have been given orders to open fire on any Palestinians trying to cross the border," the official said. A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip confirmed that a meeting with the Egyptians was imminent in part of the resumption of dialogue between Hamas and Egypt "over the future mechanisms for operating the border crossing to allow goods and passengers to travel between Gaza and Egypt freely without restrictions." Hamas wants a role in controlling the border crossing with Egypt, while the international community has affirmed its support for a 2005 agreement involving European and Israeli monitors and not the Islamist organization. The meeting was to take place at the heavily guarded Swiss Inn hotel in el-Arish, some 45 kilometers from the border and will also involve negotiations over the opening of Rafah crossing, the official added. Hamas blew open the sealed border with Egypt on January 23, allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to break out of the blockaded Gaza. While Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gave orders to allow Palestinians to cross, the wounding of Egyptian soldiers by Palestinians strained relations with Hamas and after reclosing the border, Egypt's foreign minister threatened to break the legs of any Palestinian crossing illegally. Hamas responded by saying that they would breach the border again if the blockade continues.