Egypt Warns Hamas: 'We Will Shoot if Border is Breached'

Egyptian officials warn a Hamas delegation that security personnel will shoot anyone who again tries to force open the border with Gaza.

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Hana Levi Julian,

Egypt officials say they are informing a visiting delegation from the Hamas terrorist organization that police will open fire on anyone who tries to cross the border at Rafah in southern Gaza.

The Associated Press reports that Egyptian intelligence officials said they had received information that terrorists are again planning to force open the border.

Hamas and Egyptian officials met in the town of El Arish, about  45 kilometers south of Rafah, to negotiate the re-opening the Rafah border crossing.

Relations between Hamas and Cairo chilled after Hamas terrorists blew up some 200 meters of the 300-meter-long Gaza border barrier in Rafah last month. Some 700,000 Gaza Arabs flooded through the open border into Sinai, where they bought over $300 million worth of various goods, some of it with counterfeit Israeli and American currency. At least 10,000 Gazans reportedly did not return to their territory after the border was resealed; many were camping outside of El Arish as refugees, while others were disappearing instead into the Sinai Peninsula.

Several Egyptian security officers who initially attempted to stem the tide of Palestinian Authority Arabs stampeding through the open border were wounded by terrorists who shot at them or attacked them with rocks and other makeshift weapons.

Egypt Lays Blame
Egypt blamed the PA, Israel and the European Union for the breach, charging it was a reaction to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, even though Hamas said the destruction of the barrier had been planned for months.  Israel shut down all crossings into the region following massive Kassam rocket and mortar attacks on the western Negev that wounded dozens of people and destroyed houses, factories and farm equipment in kibbutzim.

“Egypt will oppose any additional attempt to break through the barrier between Gaza and its territory,” warned Suleiman Awad, a spokesman for President Hosni Mubarak. “It will never happen again. Egypt is a country with honor,” he added. “Its borders cannot be breached and its soldiers will not be pelted with rocks.”

Senior Hamas terrorist Said Siam said Monday that Hamas would consider breaking through the Egyptian border a second time if Egypt and Israel both continued to close Gaza crossings. 

Siam said Hamas was talking with Egypt in an attempt to get the border opened after it was resealed. Egyptian officials warned the terrorist organization there was no room for negotiation on the issue.  Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit followed up last week with another warning that Egyptian forces would “break the legs” of Gaza Arabs attempting to cross the border.

A politburo representative of the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) expressed outrage in response to the threat. Anwar Raja demanded that Aboul Gheit retract his statement, saying, “The diplomatic courtesy and brotherly relations require that Mr. Aboul Gheit be more responsible in his statements."

The Egyptian foreign minister also expressed contempt for the terror group’s Kassam rocket and mortar attacks on Israel, calling them “cartoonish and comical.” He added that its rockets were “lost in the sands of Israel” while provoking the Jewish state into a military response.

Egypt has insisted on returning control of the Gaza side of the border to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority under the 2005 arrangement agreed to by Israel. The arrangement calls for PA control of the Rafiah terminal under the supervision of European Union observers and a video hookup monitored by Israeli security agents.

Hamas Terror
Hamas terrorists carried out a deadly suicide bombing ten days ago in the southern Israeli city of Dimona that killed a 73-year-old grandmother and wounded some 50 others. Israel’s nuclear reactor is located nearby.

Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza followed up with an onslaught of rocket attacks on the western Negev, prompting the IDF to retaliate with intensified ground and air operations that eliminated a number of terrorists and weapons factories in the region.