Egyptian soldier guards Rafiah crossing
Egyptian soldier guards Rafiah crossingIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Egypt kept its border with Gaza closed to Algerian activists Saturday, despite announcing last week that its Gaza crossing would be left open indefinitely. Gaza-based organizations said Egyptians turned away an aid convoy and allowed only three of its members to enter.

Hundreds of people protested at the border following the decision, according to AFP. Most convoy members began traveling back to Cairo by Saturday afternoon, an Egyptian official reported.

Egypt also turned back trucks carrying aid, saying the border is open only to human traffic, and not to goods.

Egypt announced that it would open the Rafiah crossing following an incident in which Israeli commandos clashed with passengers on a Gaza-bound ship who refused to abide by Israel's naval blockade on Hamas. Passengers attacked the soldiers, who opened fire in response; nine passengers were killed and several passengers and soldiers were wounded.

The incident increased pressure on Egypt to open its own border with Gaza, which has been nearly completely closed since Hamas seized control of the region in 2007. Israel allowed large convoys of consumer goods into Gaza weekly and allowed Gazans in need of medical care to cross the other way, but received the brunt of world criticism until the flotilla incident put Egypt into the limelight.. 

Some Israeli commentators have suggested sealing the Gaza-Israel crossings for good and having only the Egyptian ones operative. An entire network of smuggling tunnels lead from Gaza to Egypt, bringing in arms and goods, but an open crossing would allow cement for building bunkers to get into Gaza, prevented so far by Israel..